Al-Anon Intensive Referral (AIR): A qualitative formative evaluation for implementation

Jun 02, 2021 | Baloh

INTRODUCTION: The Al-Anon mutual-help program helps concerned others (COs; e.g., families, friends) of persons with excessive alcohol use. Despite widespread availability of Al-Anon meetings, participation is limited and little is known about how to best facilitate engagement. Al-Anon Intensive Referral (AIR) was developed to facilitate COs’ engagement in Al-Anon and is being tested in a randomized controlled trial (RCT). Toward the end of the recruitment for the RCT, a qualitative formative evaluation was conducted to learn about facilitators, barriers, and recommendations for AIR implementation in substance use disorder (SUD) treatment clinics.

METHODS: Thirty-one directors and staff at ten VA and community SUD clinics were interviewed. Semi-structured interviews were based on the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research and were thematically analyzed to identify facilitators, barriers, and recommendations for AIR implementation.

RESULTS: Perceived facilitators of AIR implementation included AIR’s face validity, adaptability, and alignment with staff values and skills, requiring only minimal training. Several interviewees in community settings thought AIR would fit with their current practices (e.g., family groups), and some clinics reported having sufficient staff available for delivering AIR. Perceived barriers included limited staff time, and VA clinics having limited resources for providing services to COs. Furthermore, many clients have no COs, or COs who are unwilling or unable to engage with them. Recommendations included fitting AIR within existing workflows and focusing on COs with highest readiness to receive support. Interviewees also thought AIR could be adapted to a website format or smartphone app, which may expand its reach while decreasing staff burden and cost; however, it may not be as effective and appealing to some demographic groups (e.g., older COs).

CONCLUSIONS: AIR has strong potential for implementation in SUD treatment settings, but clinics vary on implementation capacity. Most clinics could implement AIR partially (e.g., case-by-case basis) while clinics with sufficient capacity (e.g., staff time) could implement it more fully. These findings can also inform implementation of other interventions for concerned others.

PubMed Abstract

Baloh, J., Curran, G. M., Timko, C., Grant, K. M., & Cucciare, M. A. (2021). Al-Anon Intensive Referral (AIR): A qualitative formative evaluation for implementation. J Subst Abuse Treat, 132, 108520. doi:10.1016/j.jsat.2021.108520