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A Longitudinal Study of State Strategies and Policies to Accelerate Evidence-Based Practices in the Context of Systems Transformation

Keywords: Medication-assisted treatment; evidence-based practices; substance abuse

Objective: To profile state agency efforts to promote implementation of three evidence-based practices (EBPs): screening and brief intervention (SBIRT), psychosocial interventions, and medication-assisted treatment (MAT).

Data Sources/Study Setting: Primary data collected from representatives of 50 states and the District of Columbia's Single State Authorities from 2007 to 2009.

Study Design/Data Collection: The study used mixed methods, in-depth, semistructured interviews and quantitative surveys. Interviews assessed state and provider strategies to accelerate implementation of EBPs.

Principal Findings: Statewide implementation of psychosocial interventions and MAT increased significantly over 3 years. In the first two assessments, states that contracted directly with providers were more likely to link use of EBPs to reimbursement, and states with indirect contract, through counties and other entities, increased recommendations, and some requirements for provision of specific EBPs. The number of states using legislation as a policy lever to promote EBPs was unchanged.

Conclusions: Health care reform and implementation of parity in coverage increases access to treatment for alcohol and drug use. Science-based substance abuse treatment will become even more crucial as payers seek consistent quality of care. This study provides baseline data on service delivery, contracting, and financing as state agencies and treatment providers prepare for implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

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