DOI: 10.1111/dar.13742 ISSN:

A systematic review on the effect of routine outcome monitoring and feedback on client outcomes in alcohol and other drug treatment

India Cordony, Llewellyn Mills, Kristie Mammen, Nicholas Lintzeris
  • Health (social science)
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)



Routine outcome monitoring (ROM) involves regularly measuring clients' outcomes during treatment, which can then be fed back to clinicians and/or clients. In the mental health field, ROM and feedback have been shown to improve client outcomes; however, no systematic reviews have examined whether improvement is also seen in alcohol and other drug (AOD) treatment outcomes. This review examines whether feedback to clients and/or clinicians of ROM data in AOD treatment improves future client outcomes.


This systematic review of papers identified in Medline, PsycInfo and Scopus examines the effect on client outcomes of feeding back ROM data to clinicians and/or clients in AOD treatment settings. Key client outcomes included substance use, treatment attendance and wellbeing measures.

Key Findings

Ten studies were included—five randomised controlled trials and five pre–post within‐subjects designs. Six studies were deemed good‐ or fair‐quality. Of these six, three provided feedback to clinicians only, one to clients only, and two to both clients and clinicians. Only one of the six found feedback was associated with significant reductions in substance use and only among off‐track clients. Four of the six found feedback improved other outcomes, including treatment retention, global functioning, therapeutic alliance and mood symptoms.


There may be some positive effects for clients of providing feedback to clients and/or clinicians; however, the small number of randomised trials and the heterogeneity of methods, outcome measures and findings, mean that firm conclusions cannot be drawn about the efficacy of feedback until larger randomised studies are conducted.

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