Engagement in Outpatient Substance Abuse Treatment and Employment Outcomes

  • Robert Dunigan
  • Andrea Acevedo
  • Kevin Campbell
  • Deborah W. Garnick
  • Constance M. Horgan
  • Alice Huber
  • Margaret T. Lee
  • Lee Panas
  • Grant A. Ritter


This study, a collaboration between an academic research center and Washington State’s health, employment, and correction departments, investigates the extent to which treatment engagement, a widely adopted performance measure, is associated with employment, an important outcome for individuals receiving treatment for substance use disorders. Two-stage Heckman probit regressions were conducted using 2008 administrative data for 7,570 adults receiving publicly funded treatment. The first stage predicted employment in the year following the first treatment visit, and three separate second-stage models predicted the number of quarters employed, wages, and hours worked. Engagement as a main effect was not significant for any of the employment outcomes. However, for clients with prior criminal justice involvement, engagement was associated with both employment and higher wages following treatment. Clients with criminal justice involvement face greater challenge regarding employment, so the identification of any actionable step which increases the likelihood of employment or wages is an important result.


Criminal Justice Substance Abuse Treatment Employment Outcome Treatment Engagement Index Visit 



This research was supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (grant no. R01AA017177-01A2).

Conflict of interest statement

None of the authors has any conflict of interest related to this work. The views expressed herein are not necessarily those of the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services.


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Copyright information

© National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert Dunigan
    • 1
  • Andrea Acevedo
    • 1
  • Kevin Campbell
    • 2
  • Deborah W. Garnick
    • 1
  • Constance M. Horgan
    • 1
  • Alice Huber
    • 2
  • Margaret T. Lee
    • 1
  • Lee Panas
    • 1
  • Grant A. Ritter
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Behavioral Health, The Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis UniversityWalthamUSA
  2. 2.Division of Behavioral Health and RecoveryWashington State Department of Social and Health ServicesOlympiaUSA

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