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Demand characteristics of residential substance abuse treatment programs.

Timko C, Yu K, Moos RH. Demand characteristics of residential substance abuse treatment programs. Journal of substance abuse. 2000 Oct 1; 12(4):387-403.

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PURPOSE: This study examined the objective demand characteristics of treatment programs in which substance abuse patients, or psychiatric patients, were residing. It also examined associations of objective demand with substance abuse patients' perceived expectations for functioning during treatment and patients' in-program participation. METHODS: A total of 994 patients living in 79 programs took part. RESULTS: When patients had a substance abuse rather than a psychiatric problem, objective demand was higher: program policies had higher requirements for functioning and more resident control; programs offered fewer health-treatment services; and the physical design provided fewer safety features and social-recreational aids. Compared to substance abuse patients in low-demand programs, patients in high-demand programs perceived the program to have higher expectations, in that the treatment climate exerted more press to develop relationships, set goals, and be organized. Patients in high-demand programs engaged more in self-initiated activities and participated more in treatment services and program-organized events. Substance abuse patients' activity and participation levels were determined jointly by the level of demand and by the expectations for patients' expressiveness and self-understanding of their personal problems. IMPLICATIONS: The findings illustrate the importance of considering objective indices of demand in conjunction with perceived expectations to improve patients' treatment outcomes.

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