The University Centre for Rural Health (www.ucrh.edu.au), Lismore has recently completed their first collaborative project with the Buttery, Northern NSW (www.buttery.org.au). The project was funded through the John Shaw Warnock Research Grant. The Buttery’s long-term residential rehab program operates as a Therapeutic Community where the community of residents itself is the main vehicle for promoting personal change through self-help and mutual support. The project investigated how many people completed the Therapeutic Community program and how the program influenced the quality of life of residents. The project also looked at which factors predict program completion.
Final year medical student Mick Harley from the University of Wollongong, analysed the TC program under supervision of Dr Sabrina Pit, Academic Lead- Clinical and Educational Research at Western Sydney University, Mr Trent Rees, Residential Programs Manager at the Buttery and Dr Sue Thomas, Senior Lecturer at the University of Wollongong. Mr Rees said that “Program attrition is a major problem in substance abuse treatment. It is currently not clear which client and treatment variables are related to successful completion.” Dr Pit added: “Our study showed a marked improvement in psychological and social outcomes for all clients.
While the benefits were most pronounced in those that completed the course, even clients that did not finish their course showed improved quality of life and reduced levels of depression, anxiety and stress when they left the program.” Improving clients’ health outcomes has a broader impact on the community through lower rates of crime, reduced unemployment and reduced burden on physical and mental health services.
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