Follow-up Study in Sweden

Presentation of study by Mats Fridell, PhD

On Dianova in Sweden’s initiative, the Department of Pyschology of Lund University launched an outcome study in a cohort of 72 individuals having requested Dianova’s services. The study begun in 2005 and was made possible by the fieldwork of Ms. Johana Crabo and Maja Gradowska, as part of their final psychology dissertation, under the supervision of Dr. Mats Friedel, professor of clinical psychology and Psychotherapist, with financial support from Swedish government agency “Mobilisering mot Narkotika” and Dianova in Sweden


The study was designed primarily to highlight the difficulties of those suffering from an addiction problem as well as the support they could receive during their stay in Dianova’s programs.
The study used standardized tests, instruments and questionnaires that helped make the necessary comparisons with reference groups and have determined that the Dianova group was similar to other groups of heavy drug users in terms of levels of difficulty.

The study points out that the individuals undergoing a drug treatment program at Dianova in Sweden were not “easier” to treat than are substance abusers in other clinical settings – with the notable exception derived from Dianova’s choice not to include patients with severe psychiatric disorders to avoid undermining Dianova’s intensive treatment strategy.

Moreover, the study highlights the crucial point of abstinence, with abstinence rate at one year and over of 77% of those interviewed and 49% for the whole cohort. This represents an encouraging outcome, similar to what one might expect from a well-functioning therapeutic community (Fridell, 1996). Futhermore, as is the case in many other treatment programs, it appears that time in treatment is positively associated with success, not only as regards to abstinence, but also in many other aspects of the persons’ lives.
Although it is not specific to Dianova the study also points out the problem of early dropouts (Fridell, 1996), which could possibly be related to some structural problems or be due to malfunctioning recruitment policies or strategies; the study recommends to pay greater attention to the appropriate assessment of those entering the program.

The study finally shows that success in substance abuse treatment relies not only on achieving abstinence, but it goes hand in hand with a set of factors, including: improved social functioning and work abilities, lower levels of financial dependence vis-à-vis the society and a generally healthier lifestyle.

Amongst the remaining problems, the study points out that most individuals remain  financially dependent (60%) and that their social network is still fragile. Accordingly, a continued, post-treatment support should be advocated to overcome the frailty of such social network, at least for some time.

This first outcome study of the organization Dianova in Sweden lays the groundwork for further, in-depth analysis and data collection, which could shed new light on treatment issues and outcomes in the next decade.

Read complete study (pdf document)