Measuring the effects of interventions to address substance abuse

Rajen Govender is the Chairperson of the Service Quality Measurs (SQM) National Advisory Committee, which has been developing measures of the quality of interventions to address South Africa's massive problem of substance abuse. The SQM initiative comprises a partnership of researchers, practitioners, administrators, and other role-players and stakeholders drawn from treatment services providers, government, NGOs and universities/research facilities. The SQM methodology comprises a rigorous set of administrative and consumer perception measures which address key issues of access, equity, quality and outcomes in substance abuse health care. Additionally, to account for co-occurring health conditions, the SQM also collects information on HIV and HIV testing. The SQM measures have been tested and validated through two pilot studies and are now ready for implementation. The first pilot implementation launched recently in the Western Cape, with discussions for other provinces to follow shortly. The goal for the foreseeable future is the development and roll-out of the national implementation programme. Despite various resource and other challenges, the SQM initiative has made considerable progress in bringing robust science and practice to bear in addressing fundamental questions about the quality and efficacy of substance abuse treatment in South Africa. For more detail, see this article. Associate Professor Rajen Govender now has a permanent appointment in the Sociology Department and serves on the CSSR Management Committee.