Treatment goals in addiction healthcare: the perspectives of patients and clinicians

Int J Soc Psychiatry. 2011 May;57(3):263-76. doi: 10.1177/0020764009354835. Epub 2010 Jan 12.


Background: Little is known about the perspectives of either patients or clinicians regarding treatment goals in addiction healthcare. In general, treatment goals involve abstinence or at least reduction of substance use.

Aim: To examine and compare the treatment goals indicated by both patients and clinicians at baseline, interim and exit measurement.

Method: A descriptive study was performed with multiple measurements of treatment goals. Patients (n = 111) and clinicians (n = 20) were recruited from three addiction treatment centres in the Netherlands. A Shared Decision Making Intervention (SDMI) was undertaken to promote and evaluate treatment agreement.

Results: Patients identified treatment goals of daytime activities and abstinence or reduced alcohol consumption as most important. Clinicians indicated psychological distress, daytime activities and substance use as most important. Differences between patients and clinicians were found for the treatment goals of physical health (patient > clinician) and psychological distress (clinician > patient). The results further showed that treatment goals of both patients and clinicians become more closely aligned during the course of treatment.

Conclusion: SDMI provides a method to explore and discuss discrepancy between patients' and clinicians' goals of treatment which leads to convergence. Such convergence is likely to be a necessary prerequisite for positive treatment outcomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcoholism / psychology
  • Alcoholism / rehabilitation*
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Female
  • Goals*
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Illicit Drugs*
  • Interview, Psychological
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands
  • Patient Dropouts / psychology
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Patient Participation*
  • Q-Sort
  • Secondary Prevention
  • Substance Abuse Treatment Centers
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / rehabilitation*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Temperance / psychology*


  • Illicit Drugs