Retaining counseling staff at substance abuse treatment centers: Effects of management practices

Hannah K. Knudsen, J. Aaron Johnson, Paul M. Roman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

106 Scopus citations


The turbulence created by the emergence of managed care has increased the importance of staff retention for substance abuse treatment centers. This study examines the relationships between management practices, organizational commitment, and turnover intention among substance abuse treatment counselors. Counselors from 345 randomly selected privately funded treatment centers were surveyed about management practices, organizational commitment, and turnover intention. Structural equation model estimates indicate significant associations between these variables. The effects of performance-based rewards and support for creativity, two measures of management practices, on turnover intention are mediated by organizational commitment. Job autonomy has a direct effect on turnover intention. Treatment center administrators may improve staff retention by systematic attention to these factors shown to enhance organizational commitment and reduce counselors' intentions to quit. Such steps may include increasing counselor autonomy, providing rewards for strong job performance, and establishing a work environment that supports creativity and innovation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-135
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Substance Abuse Treatment
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2003

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors gratefully acknowledge research support from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (Grant Nos. R01DA13110 and R01DA14482) and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (Grant Nos. T32AA07473 and R01AA10130).


  • Counselors
  • Management practices
  • Organizational commitment
  • Substance abuse treatment centers
  • Turnover intention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatric Mental Health
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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