Ohio expanding NIATx to prevention programs

Submitted by: 02/15/2012 by Maureen Fitzgerald

The Ohio Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services (ODADAS) provides statewide leadership for alcohol and other drug addiction prevention and treatment.

As a grantee in the CSAT-funded Strengthening Treatment Access and Retention—State Implementation (STAR-SI) project from 2006 through 2009, ODADAS promoted NIATx process improvement strategies to improve access to and retention in outpatient treatment.

Since then, ODADAS has continued efforts to help Ohio providers implement NIATx to improve services. The ODADAS diffusion strategy has included expanding NIATx to prevention programs.

A pilot project in spring 2010 offered technical assistance to five Ohio prevention agencies or programs. Teri Patel, Quality Management Lead in the Division of Planning Outcomes and Research for ODADAS, led the pilot. She quickly recognized the need to adapt the four original NIATx aims to the specific needs of prevention providers.

Prevention aims differ from treatment access and retention aims, says Patel. “The overarching goal is to increase the effectiveness and sustainability of prevention programs based in schools, communities, or the criminal justice system,” she explains. “We worked on developing a set of aims that would be apply in the various settings.”

Patel and the NIATx training team worked with the pilot sites to develop four aims:

  1. Increase capacity for services and programming.
  2. Increase the use of evidence-based policies, programs, practices and strategies
  3. Increase performance management
  4. Increase staff retention

The NIATx pilot attracted the attention the state’s Urban Minority Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Outreach Programs (UMADAOP). Ohio established the UMADAOPs in 1980 to address alcohol and other drug abuse prevention among the state’s African-American and Latino populations. Twelve UMADAOPs now operate throughout the state.

Darryl Alexander, director of the UMADAOP in Youngstown, participated in the prevention pilot. “This UMADAOP provides prevention programming at several neighborhood schools,” explains Patel. Since Alexander and his team used the NIATx approach to solve a scheduling problem almost on the spot in one of their first change projects, Alexander has become a champion for process improvement in prevention programs. He’s presented on that topic at several state meetings.

Another part of its effort to expand the NIATx model to prevention programs has been monthly toll-free technical assistance calls. “Originally this was a way for the prevention projects to talk to each other, but we’ve invited any Ohio project seeking technical assistance NIATx to join the calls,” explains Patel. “NIATx is a process improvement program that’s easy to implement, gets results, and doesn’t require additional resources.”

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