$2.5 million Centre of Research to improve the capacity of alcohol and drug services

Increasing access to cost effective, evidence-based treatment for alcohol and drug use is the focus of a University of Queensland-led Centre of Research Excellence (CRE) funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council.

CRE Director, Professor Leanne Hides from UQ’s School of Psychology, said the Centre would switch the treatment focus to a ‘value-based’ system.

“The team at the Centre will focus on client outcomes rather than on the number of clients seen,” Professor Hides said.

“In Australia, alcohol and other drug use is the number one risk factor for death and disability across all age groups and costs the community more than $23.5 billion annually.

“While alcohol and drug treatment services across the country have increased by 45 per cent over the last ten years, modelling shows the treatment needs of between 44 and 73 per cent of people who could benefit are not being met.”

There are three reasons people rarely receive evidence-based treatment for their alcohol and other drug use.

They are that the demand for treatment outweighs the resources available, only a quarter of services in Australia have the capacity to deliver evidence-based treatment, and it’s currently unclear which service pathways yield better outcomes and are more cost effective for clients.

“That’s where this new CRE comes into play, by focusing on the outcomes of treatment we can help to make sure people are receiving treatment and that it’s the most effective for their needs,” Professor Hides said.

“Evidence shows restructuring healthcare around client outcomes has been successful in providing high quality care for a range of physical and mental health conditions.

“Outcome monitoring is the foundation of value-based health care.”

CRE Co-Director, Associate Professor Peter Kelly from the University of Wollongong, said the Centre would also promote collaboration and partnership in the field.

“The funding means we can continue to work in partnership with service providers, clinicians and people with lived experience to conduct research focussed on facilitating access to treatment and improving clinical decisions in drug and alcohol treatment,” Dr Kelly said.

The CRE is being delivered in partnership with University of WollongongUniversity of New South WalesUniversity of Newcastle, King’s College LondonLives Lived WellSMART Recovery and the Queensland and New South Wales Network of Drug and Alcohol Agencies.