Aiding the vulnerable

Evaluating the effectiveness of Salvation Army programs across a range of outcome measures

A decade-long partnership between UOW and The Salvation Army has led to the development of protocols to evaluate the outcomes of the drug and alcohol treatment programs provided by The Salvation Army.

The highly successful partnership was established to help The Salvation Army to rigorously evaluate their treatment services, to provide opportunities for The Salvation Army to use evidence to improve service delivery, and to make meaningful contributions to the broader scientific literature.

The UOW research team, led by Professor Frank Deane and Associate Professor Peter Kelly, developed protocols to evaluate the outcomes of treatment programs by conducting three-month and 12-month post-discharge telephone calls to clients who had completed residential treatment. They also conducted one-month post-discharge calls to clients discharged from detoxification services.

“We then provide outcome reports to let The Salvation Army know how effective their programs are across a wide range of outcome measures,” Professor Deane said.

The research team has now progressed to a stage where they are conducting multi-site, controlled studies to trial innovative clinical interventions in partnership with The Salvation Army. With this work being funded by Rotary Health, Cancer Council NSW, Cancer Institute NSW and the Heart Foundation.

Associate Professor Kelly said “Our partnership with The Salvation Army provides a unique opportunity to develop and evaluate clinical interventions as part of routine service delivery”.

There have been 32 Honours, Masters or Doctoral psychology students who have completed theses focused on The Salvation Army. The project has also helped to encourage and up-skill these students in addiction research.

“Given that most of these students are in clinical psychology programs the partnership is also increasing experience in addictions treatment services and several students have gone on to choose work in this area after graduation,” Professor Deane said.

The research team currently has 25 peer reviewed journal articles published or accepted for publication that are directly focused on The Salvation Army program activities, understanding the active treatment ingredients of treatment, or describing clinical trials being conducted within The Salvation Army programs.

The researchers have been honoured with a variety of awards including: Australasian Therapeutic Communities Association Excellence in Research and Evaluation (2016), Excellence in Research and Evaluation Award at the NSW Non-Government Alcohol and Other Drug Awards (2016); National Drug and Alcohol Award, Research Award (2012), and; the Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Research Partnerships (2010).

The UOW team has had three major research contracts with The Salvation Army over the course of their 10-year partnership. The current contract is due for completion in October 2017 and Professor Deane expects that the partnership will continue with new research goals negotiated.