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Otago University 2015 Study

> Download and read the 'Testing the Bridge' Study (PDF 5.06MB)

A 12-month evaluation study of people treated for alcohol and drug dependency at The Salvation Army Bridge Treatment Programme reports that client recovery outcomes match those of leading international treatment programmes.

Conducted by the Departments of Psychology and Psychological Medicine at the University of Otago, the study tracked the health outcomes of 325 Bridge clients.

“This study shows clients are benefiting substantially from the treatment programme,” says Commissioner Alistair Herring, National Director of Addiction Treatment for The Salvation Army.

“It is an extremely pleasing result and what we hoped to achieve for our clients,” he says. “It is gratifying to find our current treatment practice has evolved in a way that mirrors the best international treatment practices.”

The New Zealand Salvation Army has been providing addiction treatment since 1907.

Dr Tess Patterson, who along with Dr Julien Gross was the lead researcher on the study, says clients who completed treatment experienced statistically significant reduction in harmful substance use and improvements in their physical and mental health. In addition, there were improvements in clients’ perceived quality of life and reduction in criminal activity and other negative consequences related to substance use.

Herring says, “There are worthwhile economic and social benefits for clients, families and the community when investment is made in good quality treatment for people who are damaged by alcohol and drug use”.

A unique feature offered by Salvation Army treatment programmes is spirituality. Even in a secular nation like New Zealand, it appears that an awareness of generic spirituality (not necessarily religion) improved outcomes for participants and that the vast majority of clients valued the role of spirituality in the programme. This is particularly important in the health recovery of Maori and Pacific clients.

As well as confirming present treatment methods, the report guides The Salvation Army on the future treatment direction of the Bridge Programme.  This is vital, Herring says, as The Salvation Army wants to maintain a sharp, fresh approach in providing high-quality treatment recovery for alcohol and drug clients.

A Salvation Army Response

Captain Dr Judith Christensen, who developed the Bridge Programme Model of Treatment, responds to the University of Otago's 'Testing the Bridge' study by looking back to the beginnings of The Salvation Army, and looking forward with new goals for the future—to ensure that the Bridge continues to be an ‘open door’ to all.  

> Download the Testing The Bridge A Salvation Army Response (PDF, 147KB)


For more information or to request a copy of the report, contact the National Office of Addiction Services on (09) 639 1135 or send an email.