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BB92

Author Susan Spratley, Neil Donnelly and Lily Trimboli
Published December 2013
Report Type Bureau Brief No. 92
Subject Alcohol; Diversion; Mental health; Socioeconomic factors and crime; Evaluation reports
Keywords MERIT, alcohol, diversion programs, health and wellbeing

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Summary

Aim

To assess whether the NSW Alcohol-MERIT program improves the health and wellbeing of defendants.

Method

Before their participation in the Alcohol-MERIT program, the health and wellbeing of 123 defendants was measured using the SF-36, Kessler-10 psychological distress scale and the SADQ for alcohol dependence level. These defendants were then followed-up two and six months after this baseline interview. Changes in the SF-36, Kessler-10 and SADQ responses were examined between:
(1) baseline and the two-month interview and;
(2) baseline and the six-month interview.

Results

Two months after commencing the Alcohol-MERIT program, there were significant improvements in the SF-36 scores for defendants across four of the eight dimensions, significantly lower levels of psychological distress (Kessler-10) and lower levels of dependence on alcohol (SADQ). Six months after commencing the Alcohol-MERIT program, there were significant improvements in the SF-36 scores for defendants across six of the eight dimensions, significantly less psychological distress and dependence on alcohol.

Conclusion

Defendants reported significant improvements in their health and wellbeing after participating in the Alcohol-MERIT program. However, attributing these improvements to the Alcohol-MERIT program alone is not possible given the absence of a relevant comparison group.

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