Identifying optimal level-of-care placement decisions for adolescent substance use treatment

Archived Abstract of Former PSC Researcher

Agniel, Denis, Daniel Almirall, Q. Burkhart, Sean Grant, Sarah B. Hunter, Eric R. Pedersen, Rajeev Ramchand, and Beth Ann Griffin. 2020. "Identifying optimal level-of-care placement decisions for adolescent substance use treatment." Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 212: 107991.

Background Adolescents respond differentially to substance use treatment based on their individual needs and goals. Providers may benefit from guidance (via decision rules) for personalizing aspects of treatment, such as level-of-care (LOC) placements, like choosing between outpatient or inpatient care. The field lacks an empirically-supported foundation to inform the development of an adaptive LOC-placement protocol. This work begins to build the evidence base for adaptive protocols by estimating them from a large observational dataset. Methods We estimated two-stage LOC-placement protocols adapted to individual adolescent characteristics collected from the Global Appraisal of Individual Needs assessment tool (n = 10,131 adolescents). We used a modified version of Q-learning, a regression-based method for estimating personalized treatment rules over time, to estimate four protocols, each targeting a potentially distinct treatment goal: one primary outcome (a composite of ten positive treatment outcomes) and three secondary (substance frequency, substance problems, and emotional problems). We compared the adaptive protocols to non-adaptive protocols using an independent dataset. Results Intensive outpatient was recommended for all adolescents at intake for the primary outcome, while low-risk adolescents were recommended for no further treatment at followup while higher-risk patients were recommended to inpatient. Our adaptive protocols outperformed static protocols by an average of 0.4 standard deviations (95 % confidence interval 0.2−0.6) of the primary outcome. Conclusions Adaptive protocols provide a simple one-to-one guide between adolescents' needs and recommended treatment which can be used as decision support for clinicians making LOC-placement decisions.


Drug & Alcohol Use methodology

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