Developing, implementing, and evaluating a treatment protocol for rural substance abusers

James J. Clark, Carl Leukefeld, Theodore Godlaski, Cyndy Brown, John Garrity, Lon Hays

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Substance abuse is a significant social and public health problem facing rural Americans. However, most treatment protocols have been developed in urban areas. This article describes the development, implementation, and evaluation of an innovative substance abuse treatment designed with the collaboration of rural professionals and consumers specifically for rural clients and delivered by rural clinicians. Results of the process evaluation of Structured Behavioral Outpatient Rural Therapy (SBORT) produced findings about the experiences of participating clients, clinicians, and program directors. Most clients perceived SBORT as a helpful learning process that used multiple treatment strategies and presented an alternative to 12-step programs. Clients also reported that treatment was stressful even when beneficial, and that clinician support was critical for remaining in treatment. Most clinicians found that SBORT challenged their "old" treatment frameworks, was demanding to learn and adopt, and that the training and supervision involved in the project implementation helped remedy rural isolation from the treatment community. Interestingly, agency approach to program implementation strongly influenced clinician responses to the innovation. Agency program directors' appraisals of SBORT included observations that the therapy was viable because of its rural-specific design and that most staff were able to adapt to the changes demanded by the manualized protocol. All three groups reported that they saw the emphasis and acceptance of motivation as an emergent process as important to the treatment. This project highlighted the challenge and importance of testing rural substance abuse treatment protocols in naturalistic settings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)396-415
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Rural Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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