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Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy

Emerging consensus on measuring addiction recovery: Findings from a multi-stakeholder consultation exercise.


Aim: To identify indicators that diverse stakeholders believe are important when measuring recovery from addiction. Methods: Our previous work with service users had generated 28 indicators of recovery. Using Delphi group methodology (three rounds), we assessed the extent to which stakeholders working in the addictions field agreed that the 28 indicators were important on a scale of 1–10. Participants included 146 individuals with diverse job roles in 124 organisations across the British Isles. Findings: Round 1 scores were high. There was evidence of greater scoring consensus in Round 2, but this trend was less certain in Round 3. Participants scored 27/28 indicators ≥7/10 in Round 3, so confirming their importance. The only Round 3 indicator with a mean score <7 was “experiencing cravings”. There were statistical differences between the Round 3 indicator scores of some sub-groups of participants, but absolute differences were small (never more than 1 point for any indicator). Conclusions: We have identified 27 recovery indicators that stakeholders working within the addiction field in the British Isles consistently ranked as important. Replicating our methods in other countries, and with additional stakeholder groups, will provide greater clarity on the term “recovery”, its relevance and value, and how it can best be measured.

Joanne Neale, Daria Panebianco, Emily Finch, John Marsden, LukeMitcheson, Diana Rose, John Strang & Til Wykes.


A PDF copy of the article can be found HERE.




This article has been recognised by the Recovery Research Institute (RRI; at the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. It has been published on their website and Twitter page. See links below:

Their mission is to enhance exposure to addiction and recovery science in order to reduce the suffering, stigma, and discrimination associated with addiction. They hope to accomplish this in part by synthesizing, summarizing, and disseminating science to the public, clinicians and clinical administrators, and policy makers. They were intrigued and persuaded by our study and have therefore featured it in this month’s newsletter, January 2016.

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