Evaluating Outcomes

Ultimately, the goal of quality improvement with respect to service to LGBT clients is to achieve better treatment outcomes. It is important to look at measures of treatment efficacy in the overall context of the number of LGBT clients in treatment. At this point, specific outcome measures can be evaluated. These include the following:

• Number of LGBT clients abstaining from substance use

• Number of LGBT clients relapsing

• Number of LGBT clients readmitted.

Outcomes for LGBT clients can be compared with outcomes in the agency’s general client population. Although it may not be possible to do this in a statistically significant manner due to the relatively low number of LGBT clients or differences in case complexity, this comparison is a functional measure of how effective the agency’s program is for LGBT clients and is useful if interpreted appropriately. Outcome data for LGBT clients can also be compared, over time, to baseline LGBT client participation rates to measure how quality improvement activities have impacted care. Finally, the agency’s outcomes can be compared with outcomes of organizations that have well established programs for LGBT clients. This last comparison may be useful in establishing realistic, yet appropriately ambitious, benchmarks and goals. Contact with other agencies may also help identify technical assistance and new practices and skills that might further enhance treatment quality.