SOURCE: CRC Health Group

CRC Health Group

October 03, 2012 10:15 ET

Sierra Tucson Expands Data-Driven Outcomes Research

TUCSON, AZ--(Marketwire - Oct 3, 2012) - Sierra Tucson, a world-class leader in the treatment of addictions, mental/behavioral disorders, and chronic pain, recently announced the implementation of a new system for Outcomes Research that will advance research to-date about patients' improvement during and after treatment.

Sierra Tucson's dedicated clinical staff working on this project include Robert Johnson, D.O., Medical Director; Antoinette Giedzinska-Simons, Ph.D., Health Psychology Practitioner specializing in Health Education, Biofeedback/Neurofeedback, and Clinical Research; and Holly Jindrick, Psy.D., Manager of the Psychology Department.

The purpose of Sierra Tucson's new Outcomes Research is to provide a stable system for data collection that will enable an ongoing evaluation of patient outcomes through valid and reliable assessments, in keeping with evidence-based practices.

Dr. Johnson, Dr. Giedzinska-Simons, Dr. Jindrick, and other Sierra Tucson staff members are finalizing the methodological infrastructure and working to formalize a research department, which will secure additional staff who are appointed for ongoing data collection and analyses.

Primary goals of the Outcomes Research at Sierra Tucson are to 1) assess patient pre- and post-treatment clinical status, 2) empirically differentiate the relative contributions of the various treatment modalities to clinical gains, and 3) explore the sustainability of those gains over the trajectory of patients' recovery.

"This type of research initiative is unique," said Dr. Giedzinska-Simons. "Patients tell us they have improved across a variety of domains as a result of treatment at Sierra Tucson, and this is great, but it only gives us qualitative input about our treatment programs. In order to make the outcomes quantifiable and support the data-driven aspects of our programs, we need to measure patients' progress over their short- and long-term trajectory."

An important new element in Sierra Tucson's system for Outcomes Research is the second phase, which introduces longitudinal follow-up. In addition to collecting data at admission and discharge, the Outcomes Research team is developing prospective longitudinal measures for patients post-discharge. Assessments are being considered post-discharge at one month, six months, one year, and two years. The effort to develop the longitudinal measures, according to Dr. Giedzinska-Simons, is a rigorous process that requires in-depth review of the literature, validity/reliability testing, and, when necessary, exploratory factor analyses.

Several standard measures are utilized. "Additionally, for each Sierra Tucson program, we have selected specific batteries of instruments to accurately assess the patient's progress during and after treatment," Dr. Jindrick explains. Sierra Tucson's specialized programs include treatment for Addictions/Co-occurring Disorders, Eating Disorders, Mood and Anxiety Disorders, Pain Management, and Trauma Recovery.

Some examples (not all-inclusive) of additional measures to be scored for specific programs are:

  • Eating Disorders Program - Eating Disorders Inventory-3 (EDI-3). The EDI-3 is a self-report questionnaire used worldwide in research and clinical work to assess the presence of an eating disorder.
  • Pain Management Program - Chronic Pain Questionnaire. The Chronic Pain Questionnaire was developed specifically for Sierra Tucson's Pain Management Program by Dr. Antoinette Giedzinska-Simons, in collaboration with members of the Pain Management team. This comprehensive self-report assessment identifies how pain impacts many quality-of-life dimensions. For instance, two of the surveys are based upon a network of NIH-funded primary research sites that have developed a series of dynamic tools to reliably and validly measure patient-reported outcomes. The Pain Impact Questionnaire (PIQ) and the Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) are part of the packet to measure pain severity and the impact of pain on an individual's functional health and well-being.
  • Program for Trauma Recovery - PCL-C. The PCL (-C for civilians) is a 17-item self-report measure of the 17 DSM-IV symptoms of PTSD.

The overall results of the research will benefit patients, families, and referring professionals. Sierra Tucson will also benefit from data that can be used to improve internal clinical programmatic processes.

"We are using these scores to help the patients succeed during and after treatment," stated Dr. Jindrick. "A psychologist reviews initial results with patients as they begin their program to help them set appropriate goals during treatment. We then track patients to see that they're following their treatment plan and have been successful at relapse prevention -- whether that is related to substance abuse, an eating disorder, a compulsive behavior, depression, etc. Then, before patients leave Sierra Tucson, we sit down with each one to review and compare the discharge scores, including the SOCRATES (Readiness to Change) measure. Here we have a final opportunity to discuss patients' motivation for change and their commitment to long-term recovery."

Dr. Johnson adds, "We are committed to our patients' long-term success, not just gains we can help them accrue while in primary treatment. We have always followed up with patients through our Alumni Services, but now we want to embed data collection in that follow-up, in a way that can not only benefit the patients and their ecosystem of support and treatment, but also for internal process improvement at Sierra Tucson. We are always on the lookout for how we can produce clinical gains more powerfully, flexibly, and efficiently."

Over 85% of Sierra Tucson's patients are referred by a professional or alumni, reflecting "a superior reputation among clinicians and a high degree of satisfaction from our former patients and family members," said Sierra Tucson. Sierra Tucson values relationships with outside professionals and anticipates that the new outcomes research will enhance staff's ability to provide continuing feedback to referring professionals regarding their patients' progress.

With over 600 patient admission and discharge scores recorded thus far, staff have already documented improvement in patients' progress during treatment. "We are committed to finalize all elements of the outcomes research initiative and manage the gathering of this valuable data," said Dr. Johnson. "We eagerly anticipate disseminating this qualitative and quantitative outcomes data through conference presentations and scientific publications as another continuing service to patients, families, and professionals."

About Sierra Tucson

Since its inception in 1983, Sierra Tucson has become an international leader in the treatment of addictions, mental and behavioral disorders, and chronic pain. A fully licensed Level 1 Specialty Hospital and Level 2 Behavioral Health Residential Treatment Center, Sierra Tucson is known for its holistic, bio-psycho-social-spiritual treatment approach and expertise in treating co-occurring disorders. Individualized treatment plans incorporate 12-Step philosophy, a wide variety of innovative and integrative therapies, a Family Program, and a combination of Western and Eastern Medicine practices. Dually accredited by The Joint Commission, Sierra Tucson employs seven full-time physicians as a key part of its multidisciplinary treatment team. Located on 160 acres at the foot of the Santa Catalina Mountains near Tucson, Arizona, this exceptional facility offers a beautiful, natural healing environment and the highest level of confidentiality. For more information about Sierra Tucson and its programs, call 800-842-4487 or visit

About CRC Health Group

Sierra Tucson is a member of CRC Health Group, the most comprehensive network of specialized behavioral care services in the nation. CRC offers the largest array of personalized treatment options, allowing individuals, families, and professionals to choose the most appropriate treatment setting for their behavioral, addiction, weight management, and therapeutic education needs. CRC is committed to making its services widely and easily available, while maintaining a passion for delivering advanced treatment. Since 1995, CRC programs have helped thousands of individuals and families reclaim and enrich their lives.

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