Consumers' and providers' perspectives about consumer participation in drug treatment services: Is there support to do more? What are the obstacles?

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Successfully implementing consumer participation initiatives in Australian drug treatment services is predicated on the support of those most centrally involved. This paper uses data collected from 64 providers and 179 consumers of drug treatment services to describe their 1) beliefs about and commitment to consumer participation; and 2) perceived barriers to conducting or participating in consumer participation. Data show that almost all consumers (89.9%, n=161) and providers (84.4%, n=54) believe in the principle of consumer participation (that consumers' views should be included in service planning and delivery) and a large proportion would be willing to conduct or participate in consumer participation activities in future. Providers were less supportive of activities in which consumers would be involved in decision-making that directly relates to staff (such as staff training, recruitment and performance appraisal), expressing concerns about the practicality of operationalising such activities, the inadequacy of consumers' skills, consumers' lack of interest, and the appropriateness of having consumers involved in such decision-making. A small proportion of consumers also indicated that they did not want to participate, expressing beliefs that it was not their place to be involved and that they lacked the required skills. Overall, these findings reveal that there is considerable support for the further development of consumer participation in drug treatment services, but predominant obstacles are views that it is not consumers' place to take part, and that they lack the interest and skills to do so.
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Bryant, Joanne
Madden, Annie
Bath, Nicky
Robinson, Suzanne
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