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The relationship of therapeutic alliance and treatment delivery fidelity with treatment retention in a multisite trial of twelve-step facilitation.


This study examined associations of therapeutic alliance and treatment delivery fidelity with treatment retention in Stimulant Abusers to Engage in Twelve-Step (STAGE-12), a community-based trial of 12-Step Facilitation (TSF) conducted within the National Drug Abuse Treatment Clinical Trials Network (CTN). The STAGE-12 trial randomized 234 stimulant abusers enrolled in 10 outpatient drug treatment programs to an eight-session, group and individual TSF intervention. During the study, TSF participants rated therapeutic alliance using the Helping Alliance questionnaire-II. After the study, independent raters evaluated treatment delivery fidelity of all TSF sessions on adherence, competence, and therapist empathy. Poisson regression modeling examined relationships of treatment delivery fidelity and therapeutic alliance with treatment retention (measured by number of sessions attended) for 174 participants with complete fidelity and alliance data. Therapeutic alliance (p = .005) and therapist competence (p = .010) were significantly associated with better treatment retention. Therapist adherence was associated with poorer retention in a nonsignificant trend (p = .061). In conclusion, stronger therapeutic alliance and higher therapist competence in the delivery of a TSF intervention were associated with better treatment retention whereas treatment adherence was not. Training and fidelity monitoring of TSF should focus on general therapist skills and therapeutic alliance development to maximize treatment retention. (PsycINFO Database Record

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