App Increases Treatment Completion for At-Risk Youth

A study on adolescents undergoing intensive outpatient (IOP) treatment for drug and alcohol addiction at New Directions, Inc  in Cleveland, Ohio, indicates promising outcomes with the use of Connections, a CHESS Health smartphone app.

The study reveals that youth who used the app were significantly more likely to complete treatment, had increased communication with their therapists in times of need, and demonstrated lower rates of early treatment discontinuation compared to their peers without the Connections appThe study, released in June 2017, compares the results of 28 teens (age 13 to 18) actively using the Connections app to 28 teens from the prior year who did not have access to it. Seven staff members at New Directions used the app along with the teens to communicate with the patients and provide support at key moments.

Results of the study showed:

  • Adolescents using the app were 20% more likely to complete treatment than their peers. About 54% of the teens using the app completed treatment compared to 43% who did not.
  • Integrating the app into the IOP model of care fostered stronger client-therapist relationships, providing a quick way for therapists to de-escalate incidents of agitation and aggression among the youth.
  • A reduction in the total number of treatment days for the youth using the app. Average days in treatment went from 108 to 76. The study findings suggest that the number of treatment days may have dropped because the app allowed the teens better access to support, allowing them to advance more quickly in treatment. 
  • Patients who left treatment against staff advice remained far longer than those without the app who left against the recommendation of their therapists (107 to 89 days, respectively). 

Key Results.

  • 20% more likely to complete treatment.
  • 29% decrease in total treatment days.
  • 30% less likely to drop out early of OP treatment

A focus group interview with the therapists post-study indicated that being able to text with patients provided a “lifeline” for the teens, who are more likely to reach out in crisis via text than a call. 

The study was conducted by evaluators from the Begun Center for Violence Prevention, Research, and Education in the Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve University. Learn more about the positive results by downloading the full study.

*The mention of A-CHESS in this study references the original product name of what is now known as the Connections app, which is part of CHESS Health’ seRecovery solution.

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