Date: 05 Aug 2008

Using Administrative Data for Longitudinal Substance Abuse Research

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Abstract

The utilization of administrative data in substance abuse research has become more widespread than ever. This selective review synthesizes recent extant research from 31 articles to consider what has been learned from using administrative data to conduct longitudinal substance abuse research in four overlapping areas: (1) service access and utilization, (2) underrepresented populations, (3) treatment outcomes, and (4) cost analysis. Despite several notable limitations, administrative data contribute valuable information, particularly in the investigation of service system interactions and outcomes among substance abusers as they unfold and influence each other over the long term. This critical assessment of the advantages and disadvantages of using existing administrative data within a longitudinal framework should stimulate innovative thinking regarding future applications of administrative data for longitudinal substance abuse research purposes.