Predictors of outpatient treatment retention: Patient versus substance use characteristics

Mary E. McCaul, Dace S. Svikis, Richard D. Moore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

141 Scopus citations


The present study examined predictors of participation and retention for patients treated at an urban, hospital-based outpatient substance abuse treatment clinic. All patients were interviewed using the Addiction Severity Index (ASI) at the time of admission. Based on lifetime diagnostic history of psychoactive substance abuse/dependence, patients (N = 268) were classified as: alcohol-only, drug(s)-only, and alcohol + drug(s). Alcohol-only patients were significantly older, more likely to be Caucasian, married, have less than a high school education, and be employed than drug-only or alcohol/drug patients. Using multiple regression analysis, substance use status did not predict treatment participation and retention, whereas race, gender and employment composite score were significant predictors. Specifically, patients attended more sessions and remained in treatment longer if they were Caucasian, male and had a high employment composite score. These findings suggest that type of substance abuse may be overemphasized as a predictor of outpatient drug-free treatment retention, and that greater emphasis should be placed on tailoring treatment to patients' cultural, gender and vocational needs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9-17
Number of pages9
JournalDrug and alcohol dependence
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2001


  • Attendance
  • Employment status
  • Ethnicity
  • Gender
  • Outpatient treatment
  • Substance use diagnosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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