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SAMHSA News - March/April 2007, Volume 15, Number 2

National Outcome Measures: Update

The National Outcome Measures (NOMs) system—developed jointly by SAMHSA, the states, and the District of Columbia—tracks and measures real-life outcomes for people in recovery from mental health and substance abuse disorders. (See SAMHSA News online, July/August 2005.)

States are responsible for collecting their performance data across 10 domains such as resilience and sustaining recovery as well as quality of services provided (see SAMHSA News online, November/December 2005).

In the last 12 months, SAMHSA has made significant progress in completing the first three of five next steps for data quality improvements to the NOMs. All five next steps are set for completion by spring 2008.

In a recent letter to stakeholders, SAMHSA Administrator Terry L. Cline, Ph.D., outlined the progress, which includes the following:

  • Data Availability. For substance abuse issues, the length of time from data collection to data availability for management analysis of substance abuse treatment information has significantly improved from 3 years to 15 months. And, in the coming year, provisional data files (for internal management purposes) will become available quarterly after only 6 months from the time of data collection.

  • Feasibility. Mental health services stakeholders are examining the feasibility of implementing client-level outcome measures. Substance abuse stakeholders are currently linking client-level admission and discharge records. With an additional year of experience, the rate of matches they are able to achieve is expected to improve.

  • Data Standards. Potential new measures are undergoing field evaluation for mental health symptomatology. Similarly for substance abuse, the measures for client perception and social connectedness are being finalized.

  • SOMMS Reporting. A total of 45 states are currently enrolled in the State Outcomes Measurement and Management System (SOMMS) data collection program for substance abuse treatment. SAMHSA provides standard procedures, technical support, and funding for this reporting.

For the text of the complete report from the Administrator, visit SAMHSA’s Web site at

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