Does patient experience affect addiction treatment outcomes?

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In any industry, product and service improvements are most impactful when based upon reliable feedback from those who use and benefit from those products and services.

This perspective has driven the development of data collection tools that measure patient experiences in healthcare systems. To date, research in the general healthcare sector has shown that patient experience is positively associated with self-rated and objectively measured health outcomes, such as adherence to recommended treatments, use of preventive care services, and patient safety outcomes.

Over the past two years, HRI helped to take this research into the field of addiction treatment. Using the Ontario Perception of Care – Mental Health and Addictions (OPOC-MHA) tool – an evidence-based tool that standardizes how mental health and addiction agencies obtain feedback about client perceptions of care – HRI, in partnership with Homewood Health Centre, has collected data to shed light on the relationship between perceptions of care and post-discharge outcomes in residential care. This work was part of a larger initiative led by Dr. Brian Rush, who co-developed the OPOC-MHA tool, to test it in a variety of treatment settings; Homewood was the only site to test the OPOC-MHA tool in a residential care facility.

How did we do this?

As part of HRI’s Post-Discharge Outcomes Monitoring System, which measures recovery-oriented outcomes up to one year post-discharge, the 38-item OPOC-MHA survey tool was administered to patients of Homewood Health Centre’s residential addiction program. 215 participants completed the baseline, discharge and one-month post-discharge questionnaires.

The OPOC-MHA tool measures seven domains, including access and entry to services, services provided, participation and rights, environment, discharge, and the overall experience (including service quality).

The focus of HRI’s analyses was OPOC-MHA item 31, which rates service quality and can be considered a proxy measure for overall patient satisfaction.

What did we find?

Participants who rated service quality more highly at discharge were, at one month post-discharge, significantly more likely to report:

  • Adherence to their treatment recommendations
  • High motivation to continue engaging in recovery
  • Better self-perceived mental and physical health, and
  • Better quality of life

In other words, delivering quality services matters. Perception of care may be an important indicator for addiction services providers to monitor regularly, since it relates to patient recovery outcomes.

What happens next?

HRI, in collaboration with Dr. Rush, has prepared an abstract to be presented at the 2017 Issues of Substance Conference in November 2017, in Calgary, Alberta. HRI is also preparing a manuscript for publication, detailing our research findings related to the importance of perception of care and its implications for improved patient outcomes.

The HRI–Homewood study and other projects led by Dr. Rush have established the value of the OPOC tool. Based on this research, it is now being used at Homewood and across Ontario.