Better Therapist-Patient Matching Could Improve Opioid Use Disorder Treatment Outcomes

Faculty; Public Health

Therapist-patient profile matching for more effective treatment of substance use disorders (SUDs) is especially important to address the current opioid crisis, according to the author of a recent study on the issue from the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis.

“The results from this study have important application to performance-based practice,” said the study’s lead author, David A. Patterson Silver Wolf, associate professor. “Given the high fail rates facing patients entering SUD treatment, it is imperative that traditional treatment approaches be challenged.”

David Patterson
Patterson Silver Wolf

In the study led by Patterson Silver Wolf, researchers collected data from 11 SUD treatment outpatient programs, comprising 2,230 patients and 69 therapists. Analysis was conducted to understand the effect of therapist–patient profile matching on treatment completion success rate.

Gender and race matchings were associated with rates of successful completion of therapy. Of the overall completion rate of 23%, White-male therapists had the highest rate (ranging from 20.4% to 50.0%) followed by White-female therapists (13.9% and 31.2%) dependent on patients’ race or gender. Non-White female and male therapists alike had varied but lesser completion rate.

“Our findings further emphasize that staff need to be more selective and consider better therapist–patient profile matching when making case assignments for better treatment completion rate,” Dr. Patterson Silver Wolf wrote.

The study was published June 25 in Research on Social Work Practice.

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