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Adult drug courts are growing in popularity within the Unites States, but the quality of substance use treatment within drug court programs and the impact of drug courts on health and substance use treatment outcomes is largely unknown. We appraised the quality of United States adult drug court process evaluations and the inclusion of measures of substance use treatment quality. We systematically reviewed the adult drug court evaluations between 2008 and 2018 in accordance with recommended strategies for systematic gray literature search. We appraised evaluation quality using the Evidence for Policy and Practice Information and Coordination Center tool for process evaluations. We extracted recommended measures of substance use treatment quality, including measures related to screening and monitoring, diagnosis, service availability, service utilization, and outcomes. Our search identified 112 evaluations. Process measures were included within 68 evaluations, 45% of which had poor data reliability. We found that less than 10% of evaluations reported substance use treatment quality measures related to service utilization, overdose, and mortality, while more than 75% contained criminal justice measures, including program graduation (completion of criminal justice proceedings) and participant recidivism. We found low uptake of measures of substance use treatment quality. The absence of data call into question the ability of drug courts to stem harmful substance use related health outcomes. Copyright © 2020. Published by Elsevier B.V.


Paul J Joudrey, Benjamin A Howell, Kate Nyhan, Ali Moravej, Molly Doernberg, Joseph S Ross, Emily A Wang. Reporting of substance use treatment quality in United States adult drug courts. The International journal on drug policy. 2021 Apr;90:103050

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PMID: 33310636

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