Limitations and future work

This report examined the likelihood of treatment episode completions as a proxy for an outcome measure for clients who received AOD treatment, using data included in the AODTS NMDS from 2011–12 to 2020–21. Reasons for cessation of treatment episodes provided in this time differed based on characteristics such as:

  • treatment intensity over multiple episodes and collection periods
  • client characteristics such as age, sex and geographic location, and
  • treatment characteristics such as principal drug of concern, main treatment, duration, setting and referral source.

In interpreting the findings from this report, it is important to consider the following limitations in the analyses presented:

  • This report only examines alcohol and amphetamines separately and does not account for clients having received treatment for multiple drugs of concern during the study period, nor the order in which they seek treatment for these drugs.
  • The definition of treatment intensity does not account for treatment duration. For example, 3 information and education episodes within a year would be classified as a similar intensity to 3 rehabilitation episodes, despite the likely differences in client profiles and needs.
  • Reason for cessation does not provide a direct indication of treatment outcome, and therefore should be interpreted with caution when making inferences using this variable.

Future work may focus on data development of the reason for cessation variable to provide a multi-dimensional measure of treatment outcomes (including focusing on client experiences and clinical relevance). Client pathways through treatment, accounting for the order of episodes and treatment characteristics, may also be investigated.

Further work may also incorporate global measurement standards for treatment outcomes, such as the patient-centred outcome measures provided by the International Consortium for Health Outcomes Measurement (ICHOM). For further information, please see Technical notes.