Journal of Social Work Practice in the Addictions, 15:114–129, 2015
Copyright © Taylor & Francis Group, LLC
ISSN: 1533-256X print/1533-2578 online
Factors Related to the Delivery of Trauma
Services in Outpatient Treatment Programs
JOSEPH J. SHIELDS, PHD
Professor, National Catholic School of Social Service, The Catholic University
of America, Washington, DC, USA
PETER J. DELANY, PHD
Director, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, Substance Abuse
and Mental Health Services Administration, Rockville, Maryland, USA
KELLEY E. SMITH, PHD
Project Director, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, Substance
Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Rockville, Maryland, USA
In recent years there has been growing recognition of the role
of trauma in substance abuse treatment; however, only 20% of
outpatient treatment programs report offering trauma services.
We conducted a secondary analysis of the 2012 National Survey
of Substance Abuse Treatment Services (N-SSATS) and explore how
demographic, population served, and organization variables dis-
tinguish those programs that offer trauma services from those that
do not. In this article, we present the ﬁndings, which revealed that
organizational structure, process, and population served variables
were the most important predictors of trauma services. Implications
for social work practice in the addictions are discussed.
KEYWORDS organization process, organization structure, outpa-
tient programs, populations served, trauma services
In recent years there has been an increased recognition of the impact of
trauma on substance use disorders and the need to include trauma ser-
vices for those enrolled in substance abuse treatment programs (Substance
Received September 17, 2014; revised November 12, 2014; accepted December 4, 2014.
Address correspondence to Joseph J. Shields, National Catholic School of Social Service,
The Catholic University of America, Shahan Hall, 620 Michigan Ave., N.E., Washington, DC
20064, USA. E-mail: email@example.com
Delivery of Trauma Services in Outpatient Treatment 115
Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration [SAMHSA], 2014). Data
from both epidemiological public health surveys and studies of clients and
treatment programs document a relationship between exposure to trau-
matic events and increases in substance use suggesting that such exposure
might put individuals at increased risk for the development of substance
use disorders (Davidson, Hughes, Blazer, & George, 1991; Farley, Golding,
Young, Mulligan, & Minkoff, 2004; Fetzner, McMillan, Sareen, & Asmundson,
2011; Kessler, Sonnega, Bromet, Hughes, & Nelson, 1995). National pop-
ulation estimates suggest that the majority of individuals seeking substance
abuse treatment receive services in outpatient settings (SAMHSA, 2013b). Yet,
results from the National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services (N-
SSATS), the national survey of all known substance abuse treatment facilities,
reveal that only approximately 20% of outpatient treatment programs report
speciﬁcally offering trauma-related services to their clients (SAMHSA, 2013a).
This percentage is similar to the ﬁndings reported by Capezza and Najavits
(2012), who found that 21.3% of all reporting treatment programs offered
trauma services always or often.
Given this documented need, why is it that the majority of treat-
ment providers are not explicitly incorporating trauma services into their
treatment practice? Rogers’s (2003) work on the diffusion of innovative tech-
nologies in organizations has served as the foundation for a growing body
of research looking at the adoption of evidence-based technologies across
a number of service settings. In the substance abuse treatment literature
a number of studies have examined organizational factors that relate to
the adoption of pharmacotherapy interventions (Abraham & Roman, 2010;
Ducharme, Knudsen, Roman, & Johnson, 2007), contingency management
(Bride, Abraham, & Roman, 2011), other treatment innovations (Knudsen &
Roman, 2004; Simpson, 2002), and comprehensive services (Delany, Shields,
& Roberts, 2009). Bride et al. (2011) noted that there are relatively few studies
that focus on the adoption of psychosocial innovations in outpatient treat-
ment settings. The purpose of this study is to address the gap in research on
psychosocial interventions for trauma by examining selected demographic
variables, types of populations served, and organizational variables associ-
ated with the adoption of trauma services in outpatient substance abuse
Innovations in the development of trauma services emerged out of a long
history within the helping professions that sought to understand and address
psychological trauma. Within the last two decades, the trauma-informed care
116 J. J. Shields et al.
paradigm has emerged to describe approaches to address trauma from an
organizational and systemic perspective (SAMHSA, 2014).
From as early as 440 BC, literature demonstrates an awareness of the
psychological sequelae resulting from exposure to traumatic events and
evolving treatment efforts (Crocq & Crocq, 2000; Van der Kolk, 2007).
The current paradigm for understanding and addressing these sequelae is
captured by the 1980 inclusion of the diagnosis of posttraumatic stress disor-
der (PTSD) in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
(3rd ed. [DSM–III]; American Psychiatric Association, 1980). As research
has progressed, revisions to the diagnosis have been made. Over the
years, researchers, health and mental health professionals, and practition-
ers seeking to understand trauma developed and tested numerous speciﬁc
treatments for trauma. Studies have shown success with treatments such as
cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), prolonged exposure therapy (PE), stress
inoculation therapy (SIT), and eye movement desensitization and reprocess-
ing (EMDR; SAMHSA, 2014). As these treatments emerged to alleviate the
debilitating effects of trauma, researchers also were assessing the role the
overall organizational structure and treatment systems play in the healing and
recovery process (Harris & Fallot, 2001). For example, in their book, Using
Trauma Theory to Design Service Systems, Harris and Fallot (2001) articulate
the important role treatment systems play in preventing the retraumatization
The research literature indicates that members of speciﬁc cultural and ethnic
racial groups have higher rates of trauma exposure. For example, Roberts,
Gilman, Breslau, Breslau, and Koenen (2011) found that African American
men were signiﬁcantly more likely than White men to have been violently
assaulted. In the same study, African American men were signiﬁcantly more
likely than White men to have PTSD at some point in their lives. There is
also research evidence that suggests that Latinos have higher rates of PTSD
than African Americans and Whites (Pole, Gone, & Kulkarni, 2008).
The research evidence indicates that men are more likely than women
to experience a traumatic event (Olf, Langeland, Draijer, & Gersons, 2007).
However, women are more likely than men to experience intimate partner
violence and sexual assault (Pratchett, Pelcovitz, & Yehuda, 2010). There is
also evidence that women exposed to trauma tend to develop prolonged
PTSD (Holbrook, Hoyt, Stein, & Sieber, 2002).
Besides these ethnic, racial, and gender differences in trauma exposure,
there is evidence that people with other unique characteristics or experiences
have high rates of exposure to trauma. These include people with cogni-
tive or physical disabilities (Petersilia, 2001), homeless people (Greenberg &
Delivery of Trauma Services in Outpatient Treatment 117
Rosenheck, 2010), veterans (Kimerling et al., 2010), older people (Truman,
2011), and refugees (Nickerson, Bryant, Silove, & Steel, 2011).
These ﬁndings highlight the need for substance abuse treatment
providers to have a thorough understanding of the unique needs of the
clients they serve. For example, programs that serve large numbers of women
should be attuned to issues of intimate partner violence and sexual assault,
whereas programs that serve veterans and refugees need to have an under-
standing of the effects of exposure to combat and war in designing treatment
In response to the research to practice gap (Lamb, Greenlick, & McCarty,
1998), a signiﬁcant number of addiction health services research studies
have focused on factors that can help explain the resistance to the adop-
tion of evidence-based treatment practices that most treatment facilities
exhibit (Roman & Johnson, 2002). To understand how treatment programs
adopt innovative practices, researchers have conducted case studies of the
technology transfer in individual treatment programs (Liddle et al., 2002;
Martin, Herie, Turner, & Cunningham, 1998). Studies have also focused
on the characteristics of the clinical workforce (Ball et al., 2002; Forman,
Bovasso, & Woody, 2001: Knudsen, Ducharme, Roman, & Link, 2005).
Other researchers have focused on organizational structures and processes
to understand the adoption of treatment innovations (Rosenheck, 2001;
Simpson, 2002). In attempting to understand the organizational charac-
teristics related to the adoption of naltrexone in private substance abuse
treatment programs, Roman and Johnson (2002) studied factors such as own-
ership, size, leadership, and caseload characteristics. In a similar study on
the adoption of buprenorphine in treatment programs, Knudsen, Ducharme,
and Roman (2006) studied organizational factors such as ownership, size,
accreditation, and stafﬁng characteristics. In a study on the adoption of
psychosocial innovations (e.g., contingency management), Bride, Abraham,
and Roman (2010) studied structural factors such as ownership, size, and
To further the understanding of organizational processes and the adop-
tion of innovation in treatment programs Knudsen and Roman (2004)
introduced the concept of absorptive capacity, deﬁned as the ability of an
organization to access and effectively use information. The concept has been
used by organizational theorists to explain the adoption of new technologies
and services in a variety of industries (Knudsen & Roman, 2004). They stated,
“organizations with greater information processing and application capabil-
ities are more likely to use innovations” (Knudsen & Roman, 2004,p.51).
They then model the relationship between absorptive capacity and the use
118 J. J. Shields et al.
of treatment innovations by focusing on workforce professionalism, envi-
ronmental scanning, and the collection of satisfaction data. Although these
are clearly important dimensions of absorptive capacity, other factors such
as internal and external case review practices, as well as periodic utilization
review, are important learning strategies for treatment facilities.
The research literature indicates the importance of including organiza-
tional structure and process variables, as well as variables related to client
characteristics and populations served, in developing models explaining the
adoption of treatment innovations for substance abuse treatment programs.
In this study we use data derived from a national survey of substance
abuse treatment facilities to assess the extent to which selected demographic
variables, population served variables, and organizational structure and pro-
cess variables predict the extent to which treatment programs incorporate
trauma-informed services into practice.
This study employed a secondary analysis of the 2012 N-SSATS. The N-
SSATS is an annual survey conducted by SAMHSA of all known substance
abuse treatment programs in the United States and its jurisdictions (SAMHSA,
2013a). The survey collects data about facility characteristics, number of
clients served, types of services provided, and the availability of programs
for speciﬁc populations. No information is obtained directly from clients. The
surveys were sent to the facilities administrators and were completed by the
administrators or their designees.
In 2012 the N-SSATS collected data from a total of 14,311 substance
abuse treatment facilities. For this study, we selected only those facilities that
offered substance abuse treatment services and those whose primary focus
was substance abuse treatment. This eliminated programs that only provided
intake or referral services, and those that provided only detoxiﬁcation ser-
vices. It also eliminated those programs whose primary focus was mental
health services or general health care. We further pared down the sample by
selecting only those programs that were either regular or intensive outpatient
treatment programs. This eliminated the hospital inpatient programs, residen-
tial programs, and methadone programs. We also eliminated those programs
not located in the 50 states or the District of Columbia. This process resulted
in a ﬁnal sample of 4,762 facilities or 33% of the original data set.
Delivery of Trauma Services in Outpatient Treatment 119
The questionnaire included a list of therapeutic approaches that are used
in substance abuse treatment. The respondents were asked to rate each
in terms how often the approach was used in their facility. For this
analysis we selected the “trauma-related counseling” item and coded the
responses so that never, rarely, or sometimes equaled 0 and always or often
Two demographic characteristics were included in the analysis. Region of the
country was categorized as the Northeast, Midwest, South, and West. The
second variable was a measure of urbanicity. The location of each facility
was rated on a 6-point scale from least urban to most urban. The rating scale
was developed by the National Center on Health Statistics and is commonly
used in national health surveys (Ingram & Franco, 2013).
The questionnaire asked the respondents to report on the types of clients
accepted into treatment and whether the facility offered speciﬁcally designed
programs for the population. For this analysis we selected six groups that
often present themselves in treatment with trauma-related issues. These
groups included adolescents, people with cooccurring mental and substance
use disorders, criminal justice clients, adult women, pregnant women, and
veterans. Organizations that reported having programs for these groups were
scored 1 and those that did not have programs were scored 0.
The organizational variables that were included in this study were own-
ership, size, ﬁnancing characteristics, accreditation, and absorptive capacity.
Ownership was a dichotomous variable that contrasted not-for-proﬁt facilities
with for-proﬁt facilities. Organizational size was measured by the total num-
ber of clients who received intensive or regular outpatient services during
March 2012. The distribution was recoded into ﬁve quintiles. Three ﬁnanc-
ing variables were included in the analysis: Did the facility use a sliding
fee scale? Did the facility offer treatment at no charge to clients? Did the
facility receive any government funding or grants? The responses to these
three items were coded so that yes equaled 1 and no equaled 0. Two
accreditation measures were included in the analysis: whether the facility
was accredited by the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Health Care
120 J. J. Shields et al.
Organizations (JCAHCO), and whether the facility was accredited by the
Council on Accreditation (COA).
Absorptive capacity, deﬁned as an organization’s capacity to access and
effectively use information (Knudsen & Roman, 2004), was measured by the
responses to whether or not the following practices were part of the stan-
dard operating procedures of the facility: (a) required continuing education
for staff, (b) conducted periodic drug testing of clients, (c) regularly sched-
uled case reviews with a supervisor, (d) conducted case reviews by a quality
review committee, (e) conducted outcome follow-up of discharged clients,
(f) conducted periodic utilization review, and (g) conducted client satisfac-
tion surveys. Each of these practices was scored 1 if the facility reported
yes for the procedure and 0 if the facility reported no. This resulted in an
additive scale ranging from 0 to 7.
DATA ANALYSIS PLAN
All statistical analyses were conducted using IBM SPSS software (version
21.0). For the descriptive analysis we conducted cross-tabulations on the
dependent variable (trauma services) with each of the demographic, popu-
lation served, and organizational variables. The chi-square test (p<.05) was
used to test for signiﬁcant relationships between variables.
To determine if any of the independent variables were collinear, a zero-
order correlation analysis was conducted on the interrelationships of all of
the independent variables (not shown because of space considerations).
None of the relationships exceeded r=.50, indicating that multicolinearity
was not an issue.
For the multivariate analysis we conducted a step-wise binary logistic
regression. In this analysis we regressed the dichotomous dependent variable
(trauma services) on the demographic variables (Step 1), on the population
served variables (Step 2), and then on the organizational variables (Step 3).
This allowed us to assess the relative inﬂuence of each set of variables in
predicting trauma services.
The results of the descriptive analyses are contained in Table 1. The ﬁndings
indicate that overall approximately one ﬁfth (19.6%) of outpatient substance
abuse treatment programs provide trauma services. Region of the country
was statistically signiﬁcant, showing that fewer programs in the Midwest
offered trauma services. There were no differences between urban and rural
areas in the provision of trauma services.
All of the population served variables were signiﬁcantly related to the
provision of trauma services, with the strongest being veterans (34.6%),
Delivery of Trauma Services in Outpatient Treatment 121
TABLE 1 Characteristics of Outpatient Substance Abuse Treatment Facilities by the
Availability of Trauma Services
Never or rarely Always or often
Facility characteristics N%N%
Total 3,828 80.4 934 19.6
Northeast 817 79.4 212 20.6
Midwest 934 83.0 191 17.0
South 1,008 80.8 240 19.2
West 1,069 78.6 291 21.4
Rural 1,924 80.9 454 19.1
Urban 1,904 79.9 480 20.1
Adolescents∗1,081 78.1 304 21.9
Cooccurring conditions∗938 69.5 411 30.5
Criminal justice∗906 77.2 268 27.8
Adult women∗1,225 71.0 500 29.0
Pregnant women∗552 72.6 208 27.4
Vete rans ∗149 65.4 79 34.6
Not-for-proﬁt 2,094 75.7 671 24.3
For proﬁt 1,734 86.8 263 13.2
Small 1,546 79.4 401 20.6
Medium 721 79.6 185 20.4
Large 1,561 81.8 348 18.2
Uses sliding fee∗2,315 77.5 674 22.5
Offers free treatment∗1,527 74.7 518 25.3
Receives government funds∗1,918 75.0 638 25.0
JCAHCO∗573 77.4 167 22.8
COA 149 77.2 44 22.8
Low 852 89.8 97 10.2
High 2,976 78.0 837 22.0
Note: JCAHCO =Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Health Care Organizations; COA =Council
people with cooccurring conditions (30.5%), adult women (29.0%), and
pregnant women (27.4%).
The organizational variables that were signiﬁcantly related to the provi-
sion of trauma services included ownership, ﬁnancing, accreditation, and
absorptive capacity. Not-for-proﬁt agencies were more likely to provide
trauma services (24.3% vs. 13.2%). Programs that used a sliding fee (22.5%),
offered free treatment (25.3%), and received government funds (25.0%) were
all more likely to provide trauma services. The facilities that reported being
122 J. J. Shields et al.
TABLE 2 Logistic Regression of Trauma Services on Demographic, Populations Served, and
Step 1 Step 2 Step 3
OR OR OR
Northeast .951 .759∗.649∗
South .898 .907 .812
Urbanicity 1.048∗1.047 1.062∗
Adolescents 1.084 .963
Criminal justice .847 .809∗
Adult women 2.024∗1.836∗
Pregnant women 1.031 1.065
Sliding fee 1.146
Free treatment 1.286∗
Government funds 1.593∗
Absorptive capacity 1.488∗
Model chi-square 12.571∗230.059∗462.269∗
Nagelkerke R2.004 .075 .147
Note: OR =odds ratio; JCAHCO =Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Health Care Organizations;
COA =Council on Accreditation.
aFor region the reference category is West.
accredited by JCAHCO were more likely to provide trauma services (22.6%).
Being accredited by COA was not signiﬁcantly related to the provision of
trauma services. Absorptive capacity was signiﬁcantly related to the provi-
sion of trauma services; those that were high on absorptive capacity were
more than twice as likely to provide trauma services (22.0% vs. 10.2%).
Table 2 contains the ﬁndings from the step-wise logistic regression
analysis. On the ﬁrst step, the demographic variables of region of the coun-
try and urbanicity were entered. The ﬁndings show that programs in the
Midwest and those in more rural locations were less likely to offer trauma
services. Although the model is statistically signiﬁcant (χ2=12.571), it is not
particularly strong (Nagelkerke R2=.004).
The second step included the demographic variables and the population
served variables. The model is statistically signiﬁcant (χ2=230.089) and
explains approximately 7.5% of the variation in trauma services. The ﬁndings
show that facilities that have programs dedicated to serving adult women
Delivery of Trauma Services in Outpatient Treatment 123
are more than twice as likely to provide trauma services (OR =2.024).
The ﬁndings also show that facilities with programs speciﬁcally for people
with cooccurring disorders (OR =1.927) and programs for veterans (OR =
1.388) are also more likely to provide trauma services.
The ﬁnal step in the analysis included adding the organizational vari-
ables. This step was statistically signiﬁcant (χ2=462.269) and explains 14.7%
of the variation in the provision of trauma services. The ﬁndings show that
not-for-proﬁt facilities are 24% more likely to provide trauma services (OR =
.766) and that smaller programs are 15% more likely to provide trauma ser-
vices (OR =.858). Facilities that offer free services are about 1.3 times more
likely and those that accept government funds are 1.6 times more likely
to provide trauma services. Facilities that are accredited by JCAHCO are
1.3 times more likely to provide trauma services. The ﬁndings related to
absorptive capacity are quite strong: For every unit increase in absorptive
capacity, there is a 48.8% increase in the probability of providing trauma
care. Those facilities that score the highest on absorptive capacity are approx-
imately 3.5 times more likely to provide trauma services than those that score
at the lowest level of absorptive capacity.
Overall the ﬁndings from the ﬁnal model conﬁrmed most of the ﬁndings
from the preliminary analyses. Facilities located in the West as compared
to the Midwest and Northeast and those located in more urban areas
are more likely to provide trauma services. Also, facilities that offer pro-
grams speciﬁcally for people with cooccurring conditions, women, and
veterans are more likely to provide trauma-related services. Facilities that
provide programs for criminal justice clients are less likely to provide trauma
There is convincing evidence of the cooccurrence of substance use disor-
ders and trauma among treatment populations. In fact, 62% of substance
abuse treatment facilities provide brief mental screenings that can be used to
identify individuals in need of trauma services (SAMHSA Ofﬁce of Applied
Studies, 2010). However, only 19.7% of treatment facilities indicate that they
“always” or “often” provide trauma services. It remains unclear why there is
such low adoption of trauma services given the past two decades of research
showing the high correlation between substance use disorders and trauma
histories. Bride et al. (2011) noted that research on innovations in treatment
for substance use disorders indicates that the adoption of such practices are
often partially implemented focusing on speciﬁc subpopulations within the
facility. This would seem to be supported by the results of this study that
found programs that serve veterans, people with cooccurring disorders, and
women were much more likely to provide trauma services.
124 J. J. Shields et al.
Dass-Brailsford and Myrick (2010) identiﬁed a number of barriers that
might limit the integration of trauma and substance abuse services. These
include barriers at the clinical, organizational, and screening and assess-
ment levels. Among the clinical barriers, the authors noted that clinicians
might lack awareness of the role of trauma in the substance abuse treatment
population and thus could fail to regularly screen or inadequately screen
for trauma or PTSD (Ouimette, Brown, & Najavits, 1998; Read, Bollinger, &
Sharkansky, 2003). Likewise, individuals seeking treatment might minimize
symptoms to increase chances for treatment entry or to guard against other
perceived discrimination. Finally, theoretical and philosophical approaches
might view the substance use as the primary problem to be addressed and
maintain that mental health issues such as trauma or PTSD should not be
addressed until after abstinence is achieved (Brown, 2000).
From an organizational perspective, one possible explanation for the
low level of adoption is the dearth of research about which models of
integrated trauma treatment are most effective (Dass-Brailsford & Myrick,
2010). As a result, to recognize intervention services with a strong evi-
dence base that can be implemented within a speciﬁc program or practice
setting requires signiﬁcant skills in terms of assessing cost, training require-
ments, ﬁt with program and provider orientation, the setting, and the service
population (SAMHSA, 2014). Organizations with limited resources and low
absorptive capacity might not identify a need or a beneﬁt in adopting trauma
services or adopting a trauma-informed approach to care.
Another possible explanation for failure to adopt trauma services in
outpatient substance abuse treatment might have to do with the pro-
gram’s organizational philosophy. Essentially, if the norms and values of
the program establish the substance use disorder as the paramount problem,
whether or not this view is endorsed by the clinical staff, abstinence could be
viewed as the main clinical goal with cooccurring trauma issues as secondary
(Harris & Fallot, 2001). If and when abstinence is achieved, the program
could begin to address trauma as a recovery maintenance intervention or it
might refer to a mental health facility.
The results also help provide additional insight into the way programs
might have chosen to adopt trauma services. In this study, organizations that
served individuals with cooccurring disorders, adult women, and veterans,
who are often identiﬁed in the mainstream media as requiring PTSD treat-
ment, were more likely to adopt trauma services. This could be a reﬂexive
response by organizations that serve speciﬁc populations or, in some cases,
a more proactive organizational strategy to develop services to target these
speciﬁc populations. Consistent with previous research on characteristics of
treatment, ﬁnancing and accreditation were found to inﬂuence the adoption
of trauma services. Programs that offered free treatment, received govern-
ment funding, and met JCAHCO accreditation standards were more likely
to provide trauma services. Here, the population served and organizational
Delivery of Trauma Services in Outpatient Treatment 125
characteristics might be the prime inﬂuence on the values and norms of
these organizations, which in turn could inﬂuence the receptivity of the orga-
nization and staff to adopt trauma services to meet the needs of the client
population (Rogers, 2003).
Consistent with our expectations, organizations that regularly gathered
and utilized information to assess program effectiveness were about one
and a half times more likely to adopt trauma services than those that did
not. One explanation is that organizations that have stronger communication
ties with other organizations are exposed to more information regarding
trauma, PTSD, and the cooccurrence of substance use disorders. As a result,
these programs might be making treatment decisions based on information
gathered from other substance abuse treatment agencies. Thus, increased
absorptive capacity, deﬁned as the ability of an organization to access and
effectively use information, enhances the buy-in and cooperation of both
management and clinical staff and could enhance overall implementation of
services to address trauma and PTSD among their clients.
In evaluating the results of this study, its limitations must be kept in mind.
First, the information on organizational characteristics and services is based
on self-report and is by its nature subject to reporting error. Second, the N-
SSATS is a point-prevalence survey so certain characteristics such as facility
size represent a snapshot of outpatient treatment facilities on a speciﬁc ref-
erence date rather than an annual average. Although the survey attempts to
capture information from all known treatment facilities, it is voluntary, and
does not adjust for the 7% facility nonresponse. Further, as noted earlier, the
information about trauma services is limited to reported frequency of use
and does not provide information on additional principles involved in many
multidimensional deﬁnitions of trauma-informed care, the reasons for adopt-
ing or implementing models, or the extent of the populations that receive
trauma services. Further research on the level of integration of trauma ser-
vices into standard practice, including the level of training and sustained
supervision, would help to illuminate the impact on values, norms, and
implementation within treatment settings. Research that focuses on identify-
ing the trauma-informed care models or elements of models that work best
across a variety of organizational types is needed to help inform treatment
programs’ planning and strategies for implementation. Also, because the
study was a secondary analysis of data, we were limited to what was asked in
the original study. For example, factors related to workforce education and
credentials (Knudsen & Roman, 2004), as well as caseload characteristics
(Roman & Johnson, 2002), have been shown to be related to the adoption
of innovations. We were not able to access data on these crucial factors.
126 J. J. Shields et al.
IMPLICATIONS FOR SOCIAL WORK PRACTICE
Research that examines the administrative decisions that inﬂuence the moti-
vation for offering trauma services in substance abuse treatment programs
can lead to a better understanding of the role that absorptive capacity plays
in identifying, adopting, and implementing innovative treatment protocols.
It is important that new treatments not be implemented for implementation’s
sake, but that the decisions to adopt innovative services reﬂect the norms
and values of the social work profession. This is clearly relevant for the
implementation of trauma services.
Another area that warrants attention is the training of social work prac-
titioners and managers who are on the front lines of treatment. Delany and
colleagues (2009) noted that in the last two decades there has been increased
attention to accountability in service organizations, resulting in increased
emphasis on less intensive services and the adoption of interventions with
a strong evidence base. This trend has not diminished under the Patient
Portability and Affordable Care Act (ACA). The training of social workers
to become trauma-informed providers of substance abuse treatment is crit-
ical for the further development of innovations in treatment. This training
of social workers in trauma-informed care has the potential for positively
impacting the program philosophies, and thus the treatment procedures of
substance abuse treatment programs.
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