Feasibility of audit methods to study access to substance use treatment

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Emergency Medicine



Document Type



Emergency Medicine | Health Services Administration | Substance Abuse and Addiction


Audit studies represent an emerging method for examining disparities in access to care, like substance use treatment, whereby fake patients (i.e., actors) attempt to procure a service with one or more characteristics isolated across condition. This allows for manipulation of variables, like insurance status, that are normally fixed or impossible to standardize with precision when studying actual patients. This pilot study explored whether these methods were feasible for the examination of community-based substance use treatment access. Masked telephone calls (n=48) were made to providers (k=8) in a single city seeking an appointment. A male and female "patient" made calls in three insurance status conditions: no insurance, state-funded insurance, and private insurance. All other subject characteristics were held constant. Results showed an audit design to be a feasible method for examining disparities in access and demonstrated substantial barriers to voluntary treatment. Implications and future directions are discussed.


Citation: Abar B, Abar CC, Boudreaux ED. Feasibility of audit methods to study access to substance use treatment. J Subst Abuse Treat. 2013 Nov-Dec;45(5):395-9. doi:10.1016/j.jsat.2013.06.002. Link to article on publisher's site

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed


Access to care, Audit study, Substance use treatment