Satisfaction with substance use treatment and 12-step groups predicts outcomes



Matthew S. Kendra, Kenneth R. Weingardt, Michael A. Cucciare, Christine Timko

Addictive Behaviors

January 2015



•Although critical to patient care, little is known about treatment satisfaction.

•Higher substance use treatment satisfaction predicts lower alcohol problem severity.

•Higher 12-step group satisfaction predicted lower alcohol problem severity.

•A single satisfaction item, feasible in busy clinical settings, predicted outcomes.

•Outcomes might improve by monitoring and enhancing treatment satisfaction.



Satisfaction is a critical component of patient-centered care, yet little is known about the degree to which patient satisfaction is linked to subsequent outcomes, especially in substance use disorder (SUD) treatments and 12-step groups. The current study assessed the degree to which satisfaction with Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) outpatient SUD treatment and with 12-step groups, both measured at 6 months after treatment initiation, was associated with additional treatment utilization and better substance-related outcomes during the next 6 months, that is, up to 1 year after treatment initiation.


Participants were 345 patients entering the VA SUD treatment program.


More satisfaction with treatment and with 12-step groups at 6 months was associated with less alcohol use severity and more abstinence at 1 year. More treatment satisfaction was related to less subsequent medical severity, whereas more 12-step group satisfaction was related to less subsequent psychiatric severity. More 12-step group satisfaction was related to subsequent increases in 12-step group attendance and involvement. A single item assessing overall satisfaction appeared best related to subsequent outcomes.


Satisfied SUD treatment patients and 12-step mutual help members appeared to have better subsequent service utilization patterns and treatment outcomes. SUD treatments can improve outcomes by monitoring and enhancing patient satisfaction.









Human Services and Justice Coordinating Committee