Data, Outcomes, and Quality

SAMHSA works to provide current behavioral health data and analyses to better inform policy and assess the quality of services.


One of SAMHSA’s core missions is to provide practitioners, policy makers, and consumers with current behavioral health data and analyses. To help fulfill that mission, SAMHSA conducts surveys on:

  • Drug and alcohol use, and mental illness demographics in the United States
  • Mental health and substance use treatment sites
  • Various behavioral health factors, such as drug-related hospital emergency room visits

SAMHSA also evaluates the process by which Americans access care, including how people choose health care providers and services, how they pay for care, and what happens to people as a result of the treatment they receive.

SAMHSA’s integrated data strategy works to inform policy, measure the impact of programs, and improve the quality of mental health and substance use services and outcomes for individuals, families, and communities. SAMHSA’s work on data, outcomes, and quality supports efforts to enhance health care and health systems integration, identify and address behavioral health disparities, and strengthen and expand the behavioral health workforce. Data also bolster joint efforts by SAMHSA and its state, territorial, tribal, and community partners to improve the delivery of services and promote awareness.

Learn more about:

Find SAMHSA reports at the Data section.

SAMHSA’s Health Services Research and Evaluation Workgroups

Quality, Evaluation, and Performance (QEP)

QEP, a branch of SAMHSA’s Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality (CBHSQ), consists of six evaluation desk officers that assist with ongoing program evaluations and those being considered or planned. In addition to program-specific work, QEP staff coordinate some SAMHSA-wide activities, such as evaluating SAMHSA’s diverse portfolio of behavioral health mobile applications. The branch also collaborates with the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, the principal policy advisor to the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), other HHS officials, and academic experts in planning, conducting, and reporting evaluation results to health professionals and the public.

Measures Review Workgroup

The Measures Review workgroup, led by CBHSQ staff, was staffed by representatives from across SAMHSA. The group was charged with identifying a core set of prevention and treatment measures that reflect SAMHSA’s activities and programs. The group met on a weekly basis over a period of four months, between late 2012 and early 2013, to identify measures that tell SAMHSA’s story. Building and maintaining the capacity to deliver services was also discussed as a core measurement area. In 2014, the workgroup reconvened for two meetings to discuss any needed updates to the measurement selections.

The criteria selected to frame the discussion around measures were adapted from the Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA’s) Measures Management Review Board (MMRB). The MMRB had recently concluded the initial phase of their measures review and shared their materials with SAMHSA personnel. The criteria used by the workgroup included the following:

  1. The measure aligns with one or more of the six National Quality Strategy Priorities (safer care, effective care coordination, preventing and treating leading causes of mortality and morbidity, person- and family-centered care, supporting better health in communities, and making care more affordable).
  2. The measure promotes alignment with specific SAMHSA programs in the areas of prevention, treatment, and infrastructure.
  3. The measure addresses an important condition or topic with a performance gap and is backed by evidence.
  4. The intent of the measure is for quality improvement (such as clinical or population–process, access, outcome, structure and patient experience) and/or public reporting.
  5. The measure is responsive to a specific SAMHSA agency mission.
  6. The measure collection and reporting is feasible and reliable and can be generated from a consistent and reproducible data source.
  7. The measure addresses a health disparity or is a disparity-sensitive measure.

The criteria include the broad principles that reflect the National Quality Strategy (NQS) framework. These include selecting measures that align with one or more of the NQS priority areas, as well as more specific criteria that reflect SAMHSA’s mission, such as a focus on health disparities. Finally, the criteria aim to address areas of accountability, feasibility, and gap areas in measurements.

One example of a core measure identified by the workgroup is a recovery measure now in development and being piloted with SAMHSA grantees. The Recovery Support workgroup strives to define recovery and the measure in development that will address the four major dimensions supporting a life in recovery. Those dimensions include:

  • Health—overcoming or managing one’s disease(s) or symptoms (for example, abstaining from use of alcohol, illicit drugs, and non-prescribed medications if one has an addiction problem) and for everyone in recovery, making informed, healthy choices that support physical and emotional well-being
  • Home–having a stable and safe place to live
  • Purpose—conducting meaningful daily activities, such as a job, school, volunteerism, family caretaking, or creative endeavors, and the independence, income, and resources to participate in society
  • Community—having relationships and social networks that provide support, friendship, love, and hope
Last Updated: 10/12/2018