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SAMHSA News - July/August 2005, Volume 13, Number 4

Measuring Outcomes To Improve Services

SAMHSA and the states are collaborating on an effort to measure the outcomes for clients in all SAMHSA-funded programs with the goal of using the information to improve services for people with mental and addictive disorders.

"Increasingly, policymakers and budget planners at all levels—Federal, state, local, and private—are basing funding decisions on outcome data," said SAMHSA Administrator Charles G. Curie, M.A., A.C.S.W. "Eventually, this Web-based tool—SAMHSA's National Outcome Measures (NOMs)—will provide the public and policymakers with the information to improve the management and performance of our programs and make the most of the limited dollars available to help people attain and sustain recovery."

SAMHSA is realigning all of the Agency's grant and contract data collection programs—both internal and external—with NOMs. And SAMHSA is expanding and focusing its technical assistance resources to help states and providers develop NOMs reporting capacity.

Mr. Curie observed that "streamlining SAMHSA reporting requirements will reduce the reporting burden on the states in the long run."

The NOMs information available online at www.nationalout
uses maps and charts to describe states' substance abuse and mental health prevalence, treatment, and funding data. This Web site also provides substance abuse prevention data. As new data are collected, the Web site will present cross-year data to help users examine program changes over time.

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NOMs Covers 10 Domains

  • The first domain is abstinence from drug use and alcohol abuse. Also in this area is the goal of decreasing symptoms of mental illness and improving functioning.

  • Four domains focus on resilience and sustaining recovery. These areas include getting and keeping a job or enrolling and staying in school, decreasing involvement with the criminal justice system, finding safe and stable housing, and improving social connectedness to others in the community.

  • One domain deals with increased access to services for both mental health and substance abuse.

  • Another domain looks at retention in substance abuse treatment or decreased inpatient hospitalizations for mental health treatment.

  • The final three domains examine the quality of services provided. These include client perception of care, cost-effectiveness, and use of evidence-based treatment practices.

SAMHSA and the states have agreed to the goal of bringing all states to full NOMs reporting by the end of Fiscal Year 2007. Although each state is at a different stage of readiness and some of the measures are still being developed, NOMs will enable states to report consistent, cross-year data. Providers should contact their respective states for information on NOMs and on developing requests for technical assistance.

As part of this effort, SAMHSA is launching the new State Outcomes Measurement and Management System (SOMMS) Central Services Center, which will serve as a central data repository and support further technical work on standardized operational definitions and outcome measures for states.

The Center also will offer technical assistance to states to support their development of the capacity to link records so that states and service providers can make pre-service and post-service comparisons to evaluate outcomes.

In addition, SAMHSA and the states will work together to develop management reports that will guide technical assistance needs and promote the use of evidence-based interventions for improved client outcomes.

"Our goal is to achieve a performance environment with true accountability," said Mr. Curie. "Our emphasis on a limited number of national outcomes and related national outcome measures is built on a history of extensive dialogue with our colleagues in state mental health and substance abuse service agencies—and most importantly, the people we serve."

Visit the SAMHSA Web site at www.nationaloutcome
End of Article

image of example of National Outcome Measures — Texas data by county in 2002-is superimposed on U.S. map

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Inside This Issue

Medicare Modernization Brings Big Changes
Part 1
Part 2

From the Administrator: Maximizing the Benefit of Medicare

Medicare Resources

Mental Health Action Agenda Released

Youth Voices: Speaking Out About Recovery

Recovery Month

Substance Use Among Pregnant Women

Raising Awareness About Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

Voice Awards

Measuring Outcomes To Improve Services

SAMHSA Awards First 2005 Grants

Adult Drivers Drinking, Using Drugs

Boulder, Boston Areas Report Most Marijuana Use

DAWN Data Released on Drug Deaths


SAMHSA News - July/August 2005, Volume 13, Number 4

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