The need for data-informed clinical supervision in substance use disorder treatment

Alex T. Ramsey, Ana Baumann, David Patterson Silver Wolf, Yan Yan, Ben Cooper, Enola Proctor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Effective clinical supervision is necessary for high-quality care in community-based substance use disorder treatment settings, yet little is known about current supervision practices. Some evidence suggests that supervisors and counselors differ in their experiences of clinical supervision; however, the impact of this misalignment on supervision quality is unclear. Clinical information monitoring systems may support supervision in substance use disorder treatment, but the potential use of these tools must first be explored. First, the current study examines the extent to which misaligned supervisor–counselor perceptions impact supervision satisfaction and emphasis on evidence-based treatments. This study also reports on formative work to develop a supervision-based clinical dashboard, an electronic information monitoring system and data visualization tool providing real-time clinical information to engage supervisors and counselors in a coordinated and data-informed manner, help align supervisor–counselor perceptions about supervision, and improve supervision effectiveness. Clinical supervisors and frontline counselors (N = 165) from five Midwestern agencies providing substance abuse services completed an online survey using Research Electronic Data Capture software, yielding a 75% response rate. Valid quantitative measures of supervision effectiveness were administered, along with qualitative perceptions of a supervision-based clinical dashboard. Through within-dyad analyses, misalignment between supervisor and counselor perceptions of supervision practices was negatively associated with satisfaction of supervision and reported frequency of discussing several important clinical supervision topics, including evidence-based treatments and client rapport. Participants indicated the most useful clinical dashboard functions and reported important benefits and challenges to using the proposed tool. Clinical supervision tends to be largely an informal and unstructured process in substance abuse treatment, which may compromise the quality of care. Clinical dashboards may be a well-targeted approach to facilitate data-informed clinical supervision in community-based treatment agencies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-126
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Addictive Diseases
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 3 2017


  • Supervision
  • clinical informatics
  • service quality
  • substance use disorder treatment


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