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Methodological Overview and Research Design for Adolescents in the Drug Abuse Treatment Outcome Studies (DATOS-A)

A total of 3,382 adolescent patients admitted to short-term inpatient/chemical dependency, therapeutic communities/residential, or outpatient drug-free programs across six cities (Chicago, Miami, Minneapolis, New York, Pittsburgh, Portland) were interviewed between November 1993 and November 1995, and followed during and after treatment (Kristiansen & Hubbard, 2001).

Chart: DATOS-Adolescent Introduction

  • Intake Sample: Overall, this treatment sample was 74% male; 24% African American; and 21% Hispanic, with a mean age between 15 and 16 years and 9 years of education. Over half had some juvenile or criminal justice status at admission, two-thirds had no prior drug treatment experience, and the predominant drug-use patterns included weekly or daily use of marijuana alone or combined with alcohol.

  • Follow-up Analysis Sample: The analytic sample consists of 1,553 of the eligible adolescents from 4 cities (Chicago, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, Portland) who completed the two-stage intake interviews. Of these, 81.7% (n=1,269) were located, including 75% (n=1,167) who were successfully interviewed, .5% (n=8) who were deceased, and 6% (n=94) who refused to participate.

Data Collection

Repeated measures methodology was used, combining detailed levels of measurement. Data collection forms included sets of standardized instruments recommended by clinical experts.

  • Intake 1 and Intake 2 were conducted by trained interviewers (approximately 1 week apart) and covered 9 domains (demographic characteristics; employment status, work history, and income; criminal justice status; living situation, and child custody status; mental health, and psychiatric diagnosis; medical and health-related data; level of drug and alcohol use before treatment; primary drug use and patterns of dependence; and HIV risk behaviors).

  • During-Treatment Interviews were completed at 1 month after admission, and again at 3 and 6 months. Questions were included about service delivery and client satisfaction.

  • Follow-up Interviews were administered at 12 months after treatment termination. They replicated much of the Intake interviews and focused on key behaviors during the year before the follow-up interview.

  • Treatment Process Questionnaires were sent to counselors and program directors. A total of 33 of the 37 programs (89%) returned completed questionnaires. Questions were asked about program and treatment structure, philosophy, available services, policy, staffing, treatment planning, and aftercare. Program directors were asked about program organization and financing.


  • Specially trained and supervised interviewers were hired to carry out Intake and During-Treatment data collection in order to assure that programs were not inconvenienced by the research. Trained professional survey interviewers conducted follow-up surveys in the community. Quality control procedures were in place for each step of data management, data editing and entry, and document control.

  • Clients were compensated $10 for each Intake and During-Treatment interview, and $15 for a Follow-up interview.

Treatment Modalities Represented

  • Residential, Therapeutic Community (RES) programs included traditional, modified, and short-term therapeutic communities, as well as halfway houses and shelters. They all required patients to live in the treatment setting and included traditional treatment interventions along with those designed to resocialize patients. Planned duration of stay was much shorter than the long-term residential treatment for adults, initially varying from 3 months to 1 year (median 5 months) compared to 4 months to 2 years for adult programs (median 11 months).

  • Outpatient Drug-Free (ODF) programs provided regular and intensive outpatient and day-treatment, but they varied in terms of the range of services offered and the duration and frequency of treatment sessions. Planned duration of stay varied from 1 month to 2 years.

  • Short-Term Inpatient (STI) programs provided such treatment interventions as individual, group, and family counseling, as well as 12-step counseling. Planned duration of stay was no more than 35 days, but often the actual duration was fewer than 14 days.


Kristiansen, P.L., and Hubbard, R.L. (2001). Methodological overview and research design for adolescents in the Drug Abuse Treatment Outcome Studies (DATOS-A). Journal of Adolescent Research, 16(6), 545-562.  [Abstract]

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Last Revised:
14 December 2001

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