A student of mine (Seth) recently handed in a paper where he conducted a small piece of research on his addiction program (an intensive outpatient program). Technically, it was a post hoc analysis survey. All that means is that he searched through about 25 old charts picked at random. The general intent was to find out some preliminary answers to a few key questions.
The process was modest. He himself asked straightforward questions like:
- What is the average length of stay for each client?
- Did the client complete the program?
- Did the client have previous treatment experience, and did they complete that program?
- Did the client have legal encumbrances prior to admission?
- How long was the client actively using drugs prior to admission to his program?
These were very simple questions that he could find right in the existing charts. This student didn’t do any fancy statistical analysis, just ran percentages from his results.
I want to make a few points here.
First, a student did this. Some treatment programs in this country don’t even bother to do any research about their program. Yet, it was so simple.
Yes, you have to be a cautious about such simplistic results, but at least this student began to gather some data. And “data” is the catch phrase for this century.
Second, once you get to be a bit more comfortable with collecting data you might then begin to feel more comfortable with doing something a little more sophisticated. And that’s where your can really get some useful information.
Third, my student wanted to give his clients the best treatment he could. He understood that data from his program could eventually reveal what was working and what might have to be tossed.
Now, this may sound harsh, but I’m going to say it anyway. In this day and age, if a treatment program is not doing research on itself, it should not be in business.
Doing research on your treatment program is so simple, even a student can do it.