The Society for Social Work and Research

2013 Annual Conference

January 16-20, 2013 I Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina I San Diego, CA

Quasiexperimental Outcome Studies with Adolescents Suffering From Substance Use Disorders

Thursday, January 17, 2013: 1:30 PM-3:15 PM
Executive Center 2B (Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina)
Cluster: Adolescent and Youth Development
Symposium Organizer:
Douglas C. Smith, PhD, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Since the early 2000’s the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) began using common outcome measures across all discretionary funding programs targeting adolescents with substance use problems.  Specifically, all recent SAMHSA-funded adolescent grantees have used the Global Appraisal of Individual Needs (GAIN), a reliable and valid biopsychosocial assessment, with well-specified quality assurance and data cleaning protocols.  The resulting pooled dataset (n=20,000+) enables researchers to address many questions that could not be answered in single studies due to lower statistical power.  Furthermore, propensity matching can be used to conduct replication studies at no further cost when certain assumptions are met and a pool of potential comparison group participants is available. 

This symposium begins with a brief primer on propensity score matching, an advanced observational study procedure that, when key assumptions are met, can be used to infer causality.   In this primer, we describe this analytic model’s assumptions, procedures, and limitations.  Resources are provided to participants that are interested in learning more about the propensity score matching.  We then present three propensity score matching studies that address pressing questions, including: whether youth receiving residential treatment have superior outcomes compared to matched controls receiving outpatient treatments, whether African-American youth have superior substance use outcomes when exposed to an optional drug refusal skills training procedure, and whether youth receiving a promising new treatment at one site have equivalent outcomes to matched controls from other sites.    Notwithstanding limitations, these studies assist policy makers’ and practitioners’ decisions about how to best direct scarce resources to maximize the public health benefits of adolescent substance abuse treatments.

* noted as presenting author
Propensity Score Matching Analyses: A Primer
Douglas C. Smith, PhD, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Additional Efficacy Findings for Strengths Oriented Family Therapy (SOFT): A Quasiexperimental Study
James A. Hall, PhD, Indiana University - Purdue University, Indianapolis
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