Homeless Veterans’ Satisfaction with Residential Treatment

Wesley J. Kasprow, Linda Frisman, Robert A. Rosenheck

April 1999

Because little is known about homeless individuals' satisfaction with mental health services or the association between satisfaction and measures of treatment outcome, the study examined those issues in a group of homeless veterans. Demographic and clinical data were obtained from intake assessments conducted before veterans' admission to residential treatment facilities under contract with the Department of Veterans Affairs Health Care for Homeless Veterans program, a national outreach and case management program. Clients completed a satisfaction survey and the Community-Oriented Programs Environment Scale, which asks them to rate dimensions of the treatment environment. Outcome data came from discharge outcome summaries completed by VA case managers. Overall satisfaction with residential treatment services was high among the 1,048 veterans surveyed. Greater satisfaction was associated with more days of drug abuse and more days spent institutionalized in the month before intake and with an intake diagnosis of drug abuse. Regression analyses indicated that satisfaction was most strongly related to clients' perceptions of several factors in the treatment environment. Policy clarity, clients' involvement in the program, an emphasis on order, a practical orientation, and peer support were positively related to satisfaction; staff control and clients' expression of anger were negatively related. Satisfaction was significantly associated with case managers' discharge ratings of clinical improvement of drug problems and psychiatric problems. Homeless veterans are more satisfied in environments they perceive to be supportive, orderly, and focused on practical solutions. The results indicate that client satisfaction is not related to treatment outcomes strongly enough to serve as a substitute for other outcome measures.

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