Workforce diversity in outpatient substance abuse treatment: the role of leaders' characteristics

J Subst Abuse Treat. 2013 Feb;44(2):208-15. doi: 10.1016/j.jsat.2012.05.004. Epub 2012 Jun 2.


Although the outpatient substance abuse treatment field has seen an increase in referrals of African American and Latino clients, there have been limited changes in the diversity of the workforce. This discordance may exacerbate treatment disparities experienced by these clients. Program leaders have significant influence to leverage resources to develop staff diversity. Analysis of panel data from 1995 to 2005 showed that the most significant predictors of diversity were the characteristics of leaders. In particular, programs with managers with racially and ethnically concordant backgrounds and their education level were positively related to the percentage of Latino and African American staff. A high percentage of African American staff was positively associated with managers' tenure, but inversely related to licensed directors. Diversification of the field has increased, yet efforts have not matched increases in client diversity. Implications for health care reform legislation seeking to improve cultural competence through diversification of the workforce are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Ambulatory Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Black or African American / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cultural Competency
  • Cultural Diversity*
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Hispanic or Latino / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Substance Abuse Treatment Centers* / statistics & numerical data
  • Substance-Related Disorders / rehabilitation
  • United States
  • Workforce