Characteristics of Opinion Leaders in Substance Abuse Treatment Agencies

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substance abuse treatment, technology transfer, practice to research

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Objective. This study was part of a larger effort to test the effectiveness of technology transfer approaches related to evidence‐based treatment of co‐occurring substance abuse and mental health disorders. Specifically, this study examined characteristics of “opinion leaders” as technology transfer agents. Method. A network analysis was conducted within four large substance abuse treatment agencies to identify individuals that other counselors sought out for consultation on co‐occurring issues. The identified opinion leaders were then compared with other counselors on demographic variables, education and experience, and attitudes and knowledge about working with individuals with co‐occurring disorders. Results. The analyses demonstrate that opinion leaders differed from other counselors in competency‐related characteristics including more postgraduate education, relevant professional credentials, and years of experience in mental health treatment. They also had greater knowledge of the dynamics and treatment of co‐occurring disorders as well as a greater willingness and confidence in working with such clients. Conclusion. These results suggest that opinion leaders are used within agencies for information and consultation regarding treatment issues. Therefore, opinion leaders may provide an important vehicle for dissemination and adoption of evidence‐based treatment practices in community treatment settings.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, v. 30, issue 1, p. 187-203