Scales for participant Alliance with Recovery Coach (SPARC): initial development and pilot test

Amanda Fallin-Bennett, Martha Tillson, J. Matthew Webster, Carrie B. Oser, Jennifer Edwards Becan, Kevin Knight, Jeremy Byard, Michele Staton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recovery coaches are individuals with lived experience with recovery from substance use disorder who typically engender a greater sense of trust than found with other types of healthcare providers. However, there currently are no validated tools that measure the connection between recovery coaches and their participants. The purpose of this study was to describe the initial development of the Scales for Participant Alliance with Recovery Coach (SPARC) to measure recovery coach connection or alliance, including initial psychometric analyses. Measurement development began with five scales of the Client Evaluation of Self Treatment (treatment participation, treatment satisfaction, rapport, peer support, and social support). Adapted items were pre-tested with focus groups (n = 8) to ensure they were meaningful and accurately reflected the domains (Study 1). After modifications, the SPARC has six scales (engagement, satisfaction, rapport, motivation and encouragement, role model and community linkage). The survey was piloted with 100 individuals (Study 2) age 18 or over who had met with a recovery coach within the last six months. Most study participants were male (60%) and white (87%) with less than two years in recovery. After removing two low performing items, the items for five of the domains had acceptable internal consistency. The items for the engagement domain had a slightly lower reliability. Findings suggest that items cover relevant recovery coach roles, are internally consistent within domains, and can be easily administered to individuals engaging in recovery coaching services. Additional research is needed with a larger, more heterogenous sample to further refine items.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-26
Number of pages7
JournalAddiction Research and Theory
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Recovery coaching
  • alliance
  • peer support
  • recovery support
  • scale development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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