An Evaluation Model for Social Work with Substance Abusers

Minna Kivipelto, Tuija Kotiranta, Mansoor A. F. Kazi, Pekka Borg, Tuula Jauhiainen, Pertti Korteniemi


In this article, the research topic is to develop an evaluation model for social work with substance abusers. It is studied by presenting an example of how the evaluation process could be carried out in practice. The study has been implemented with the Department of Social Services and Health Care’s Centre for Recovering Substance Abusers in Finland (RSA Centre). The term “evaluation model” refers to a way of collecting client follow-up information and the way the information is used to develop social work practices. Firstly it is described, how the evaluation model was created at the RSA Centre. Secondly, some results are lifted up to show, what kind of information were used. Finally, it is discussed how the evaluation model should be developed further to support social work processes.

According to the results, the social work evaluation is possible to carry out in the side of social work with substance abusers. The model helped professionals to clarify Centre's main focus in the field of social rehabilitation and social work with substance abusers. In the long term, the model could enable to gain information about social work effectiveness. Disadvantages of the model were that it took a lot of time and resources from social work, and that the direct benefits of the model may not be available until only after some time. Evaluation’s integration to the client database system should be studied more.


Social Work, Effectiveness Evaluation, Practice Improvement, Substance Abusers, Peer Support

Full Text:



Amato L, Minozzi S, Davoli, M, Vecchi S. Psychosocial combined with agonist maintenance. Treatments versus agonist maintenance treatments alone for treatment of opioid dependence. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2011 Oct.

Andreas D, Ja DY, Wilson S. Peers Reach Out Supporting Peers to Embrace Recovery (PROSPER): A Centre for substance abuse treatment recovery community services programme. Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly, Special issue: Recovery community services programmes. 2010: 28(3): 326-338.

Beder J. Evaluation Research on Social Work Interventions: A Study on the Impact of Social Worker Staffing. Social Work in Health Care. 2008: 7(1): 1-13.

Borg P. ’Ohjelmateoria’ [’Programme Theory’]. In: Borg P, Högnabba S, Kilponen M-L, Kopisto K, Korteniemi P, Paananen I-T et al. Arviointi työtavaksi. Kokemuksia asiakastyön arvioinnin kehittämisestä Helsingin sosiaalivirastossa [Evaluation as a working method. Experiences of developing the evaluation of client work at Helsinki Social Services Department]. Oppaita ja työkirjoja 2. Helsinki: Helsingin kaupungin sosiaalivirasto. 2008. p. 22-27.

Butler SF, Budman SH, McGee MD, Davis, MS, Cornelli R, Morey LC. Addiction severity assessment tool: evaluation of a self-report measure for clients in substance abuse treatment. Drug & Alcohol Dependence. 2005: 80(3): 349-360.

Cacciola JS, Alterman AI, Habing B, McLellan AT. Rescent status scores for version 6 of the Addiction Severity Index (ASI-6). Addiction. 2011: 106(9): 1588-1602.

Chen H-T. Practical programme evaluation. Assessing and improving planning, implementation and effectiveness. Thousand Oaks: Sage; 2005.

City of Helsinki, Social Services Department. Sosiaaliviraston arvioinnin kehittämis- ja toteuttamissuunnitelma vuoteen 2010. [Evaluation and implementation plan of evaluation at the Social Services Department up to 2010]. Helsinki: Helsingin kaupunki, sosiaalivirasto; 2003.

City of Helsinki, Social Services Department. City of Helsinki, Social Services Department. The Unit of Social Rehabilitation. [SPSS-file] Helsinki: Helsingin kaupungin sosiaalivirasto, päihdehuollon avopalvelut [Outpatient Services in Substance Abuse Services]; 2011.

Cloud W, Granfield R. Conceptualizing recovery capital: Expansion of a theoretical construct. Substance Use and Misuse. 2008: 43(12-13): 1971-1981.

Cosden M, Baker A, Benki C, Patz S, Walker S, Sullivan K. Consumers' perspectives on successful and unsuccessful experiences in a Drug Treatment Court. Substance Use and Misuse. 2010: 45(7-8): 1033-1049.

Gredig D, Marsh JM. Improving Intervention and Practice, in Ian Shaw, Katharine Briar-Lawson, Joan Orme, & Roy Ruckdeschel (eds), The SAGE Handbook of Social Work Research. London: Sage. 2013. p. 64-82.

Ettner SL, Denmead G, Dilonardo J, Cao H, Belanger AJ. The impact of managed care on the substance abuse treatment patterns and outcomes of Medicaid beneficiaries: Maryland’s Health Choice program. The Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research. 2003: 30(1): 41-62.

Ferri M, Amato L, Davoli M. Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step programmes for alcohol dependence. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2006 Jul 19(3):CD005032. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD005032.pub2

Fischer J, Corcoran K. Measures For Clinical Practice And Research. A Sourcebook. Vol 1 Couples, Families And Children. 4th ed. New York: Oxford University Press; 2007a.

Fischer J, Corcoran K. Measures for Clinical Practice and Research. A sourcebook. Vol 2 Adults. 4th ed. New York: Oxford University Press; 2007b.

Flynn PM, Knight DK, Godley MD, Knudsen HK. Introduction to the special issue on organizational dynamics within substance abuse treatment: A complex human activity system. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment. 2012: 42(2): 109-115.

Gone JP. Indigenous traditional knowledge and substance abuse treatment outcomes: The problem of efficacy evaluation. American Journal of Drug & Alcohol Abuse 2012: 38(5): 493-497.

Gray M, Plath D, Webb SA. Evidence-Based Social Work. A Critical Stance. London: Routledge; 2009.

Green LW, Glasgow RE. Evaluating the relevance, generalization, and applicability of research. Issues in External Validation and Translation Methodology, Evaluation & Health Professions. 2006: 29(1): 126-153.

Greene JC. ‘Evidence as “Proof” and evidence as “Inkling‟’, in In Stewart I. Donaldson, Christina A. Christie, & Melvin M. Mark (eds), What Counts as Credible Evidence in Applied Research and Evaluation Practice? Los Angeles: Sage. 2009. p. 153-167.

Halterman SL, Rodin A, Walters ST. The open door mission: Measuring and predicting outcomes of one community-based substance abuse treatment programme. Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly. 2012: 30(1): 22-39.

Hancock P. Violence, Women, Work and Empowerment: Narratives from Factory Women in Sri Lanka’s Export Processing Zones, Gender Technology and Evaluation. 2006: 10(2): 211-228.

Hansten ML, Downey L, Rosengren DB, Donovan DM. Relationship between evaluation rates and treatment outcomes in substance abuse research: more is better but when is “enough” enough? Addiction. 2000: 95(9): 1403-1416.

Hesse M, Vanderplasschen W, Rapp R, Broekaert E, Fridell M. Case management for persons with substance use disorders. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2007 Oct; 17(4):CD006265. Available from:

Innovation Network. Logic Model Workbook [Web Page], [Online] Available from:

Jauhiainen T. Päihdehuollon jälkikuntoutus. Asiakastyön seurantaraportti [Rehabilitation in specialised services for substance abusers – monitoring report on client work]. Selvityksiä 5. Helsinki: Helsingin kaupungin sosiaalivirasto; 2006a.

Jauhiainen T. Asiakasprosessin ja asiakastyön arviointi ja sen pulmat [An evaluation and its’ problems in client-process and client-work]. Päihde- ja mielenterveystyön palveluohjaus –työkokous 3.4.2006. Helsinki: Stakes; 2006b.

Jauhiainen T. Asiakastyön seurantamalli. Päihdehuollon jälkikuntoutus. [Monitoring-model of the Client Work] [Power Point presentation 29.8.2011]. Helsingin kaupunki: Päihdehuollon jälkikuntoutus; 2011.

Juhila K. ’Sosiaalityö marginaalissa’ [’Is Social in Margin?’]. In: Juhila K, Forsberg H, Roivainen I (eds). Marginaalit ja sosiaalityö [Marginalisation and Social Work]. Publication number 65. Jyväskylä: SoPhi; 2002. p. 11-19.

Juhila, K. ‘Aikuisten parissa tehtävän sosiaalityön yhteiskunnallinen paikka’ [Social Locus of Social Work With Adults] In: Jokinen A & Juhila K (eds.). Sosiaalityö aikuisten parissa [Social Work With Adults]. Tampere: Vastapaino; 2008. p. 48-81.

Julnes G, Mark MM. Evaluation as Sensemaking: Knowledge Construction in a Realist World. New Directions For Evaluation. 1998 (78): 33-52.

Kaner EFS, Dickinson HO, Beyer FR, Campbell F, Schlesinger C, Heather N, Saunders JB, Burnand B, Pienaar ED. Effectiveness of brief alcohol interventions in primary care populations. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2007 Apr; 18(2). Available from:

Kazi MAF. Realist Evaluation in Practice. London: Sage; 2003.

Kazi MAF, Pagkos B, Milch H. Realist Evaluation in Wraparound: A New Approach in Social Work Evidence-Based Practice. Research on Social Work Practice, 2011: 21(11): 75–84.

Kemppainen T, Kostamo-Pääkkö K, Niskala A, Ojaniemi P, Vesterinen K. Sosiaalityön vaikuttavuuden arvioinnin ensiaskeleet Lapista. Tutkimus sosiaalitoimistojen työn vaikuttavuudesta [First steps in evaluating the effectiveness of social work in Lapland. A study of the effectiveness of the work of social welfare offices]. Pohjois-Suomen sosiaalialan osaamiskeskuksen julkaisuja 32. Rovaniemi: Lapin sosiaalityön kehittämisyksikkö; 2010.

Kivipelto M. Sosiaalityön ammattilaisten yhteiskunnalliset orientaatiot ja työn kehittämisen haasteet [Social orientations of professionals of social work and the challenges for the evaluation of their work]. Janus. 2004: 12(4): 342-358.

Kivipelto M. Sosiaalityön kriittinen arviointi. Sosiaalityön kriittisen arvioinnin perustelut, teoriat ja menetelmät [Critical evaluation of social work. Justifications, theories and methods for the critical evaluation of social work]. Doctoral dissertation. Seinäjoen ammattikorkeakoulun julkaisusarja A3. Seinäjoki: Seinäjoen ammattikorkeakoulu; 2006.

Kivipelto M, Blomgren S, Suojanen R. ’AVAIN-mittarin kehittäminen Seinäjoen sosiaalivirastossa’ [’Developinf the KEY-measure in the Seinäjoki Basic Social Security Unit’]. In: Kivipelto M, Blomgren S, Karjalainen P, Saikkonen P, editors. Vaikuttavaa aikuissosiaalityötä–arviointimalleista mittareihin. Tutkimus- ja kehittämishankkeen loppuraportti [Effevtive adult social work–from evaluation models to evaluation measures. Research and evaluation project report]., Report 8. Helsinki: National Institute for Health and Welfare; 2013. p. 28-52.

Kivipelto M, Larivaara M, Andersson S, Heinämäki L, Jonsson PM, Kotiranta T, Vuorenmaa M. edistors. Näkökulmia osahankkeiden arviointiin. Kaste-ohjelman valtionavustushankkeet. [Perspectives on the evaluation of sub-projects. Projects receiving discretionary government transfers in the KASTE programme]. Helsinki: National Institute for Health and Welfare; 2012.

Knowlton, LW, Phillips CC. The Logic Model Guidebook; Better Strategies for Great Results. Thousand Oaks: Sage; 2009.

Koivisto J, Vataja K, Seppänen-Järvelä R. Relational Evaluation of Organizational Evaluation Activities. International Journal of Public Administration. 2008: 31(10-11): 1167-1181.

Kuusisto K, Saarnio P. Päihdehuollon toimivuus yleisten tekijöiden valossa [Substance abuse services in the light of common factors]. Yhteiskuntapolitiikka. 2012: 7 (3): 290-301.

Luoma J, Drake CE, Kohlenberg BS, Hayes SC. Substance abuse and psychological flexibility: The evaluation of a new measure. Addiction Research and Theory. 2011: 19(1): 3-13.

Mark M, Henry G, Julnes G. A realist theory of evaluation practice, New Directions For Evaluation. 1998: (78): 3-32.

Madhabi C. Grades of Evidence: Variability in Quality of Findings in Effectiveness Studies of Complex Field Interventions. American Journal of Evaluation. 2007: 28(3): 239-255.

Mark MM, Henry GT. ‘Methods for policy-making and knowledge evaluation evaluations’ In: Shaw IF, Greene J, Mark MM, editors. Handbook of Evaluation: Policy, Programme and Practice. London: Sage; 2005. p. 317-339.

O'Brien MW, Stewart SJ. Measuring Satisfaction with Social Work Services. Social Work in Health Care. 2009: 48(2): 105-118.

Patton MQ. Utilization-Focused Evaluation for Social Services and Social Work, Revista de Asistenț ă Socială. 2010: 4(IX): 11-27.

Pawson R, Sridharan S. ‘Theory-driven evaluation in public health programmes’. In: Killoran A, Kelly M, editors. Evidence-based public health: effectiveness and efficiency. Oxford: Oxford University Press; 2009: p. 43-61.

Pawson R, Tilley N. Realistic Evaluation. London: Sage; 1997.

Rogers PJ, Williams B.‘Evaluation for Practice Improvement and Organizational Learning’. In Shaw IF, Greene JC, Mark MM, editors. The Sage Handbook of Evaluation. London: Sage; 2006. p. 76-97.

Schwandt TA. ‘Toward A Practical Theory of Evidence for Evaluation’. In: Donaldson SI, Christie CA, Mark MM. What Counts as Credible Evidence in Applied Research and Evaluation Practice? Los Angeles: Sage; 2009: p. 197-212.

Shaw I, Bryderup IM. ‘Visions for Social Work Research’. In Bryderup IM. Evidence Based and Knowledge Based Social Work. Danish School of Education. Århus: Aarhus University Press; 2008. p. 9-31.

Shlonsky A, Saini M, Wu M-J. The recurrence of child maltreatment: Predictive validity of risk assessment instruments. [Review]. The Campbell Collaboration Library of Systematic Reviews. 2007. [Updated 13.06.2009]Available from:

Smedslund G, Berg R C, Hammerstrøm KT, Steiro A, Leiknes, KA, Dahl HM, Karlsen, K. Motivational interviewing for substance abuse. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2011: 7(6). Available from:

Särkelä A. Välittäminen ammattina. Näkökulmia sosiaaliseen auttamistyöhön [Caring as a profession. Perspectives on social work]. Tampere: Vastapaino; 2001.

Thomlison B. Family Assessment Handbook. An Introduction and Practical Guide to Family Assessment. 3rd ed. Belmont: Brooks/Cole; 2010.

Vataja K. Kehittyvä työyhteisö. Itsearvioinnin hyödyntäminen työyhteisön kehittämisessä kunnallisessa sosiaalitoimessa [The evolving workplace community. Utilizing self-evaluation in workplace evaluation in municipal social services] Research 86. Helsinki: National Institute for Health and Welfare; 2012.

Watkins KE, Hunter SB, Hepner KA, Paddock SM, Zhou A, de la Cruz E. Group cognitive-behavioral therapy for clients with major depression in residential substance abuse treatment. Psychiatric Services. 2012: 63(6): 608-611.

Watkins KE., Hunter SB, Hepner KA, Paddock SM, de la Cruz E, Zhou AJ, Gilmore Jim. An effectiveness trial of group cognitive behavioral therapy for patients with persistent depressive symptoms in substance abuse treatment. Archives of General Psychiatry. 2011; 68(6): 577-584.

Wood TE, Englander-Golden P, Golden D, Pillai VK. Improving addictions treatment outcomes by empowering self and others. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing. 2010: 19(5): 363-368.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Open Science Journal (OSJ) is multidisciplinary Open Access journal. We accept scientifically rigorous research, regardless of novelty. OSJ broad scope provides a platform to publish original research in all areas of sciences, including interdisciplinary and replication studies as well as negative results.