• Article

The Reinforcing Therapist Performance (RTP) experiment Study protocol for a cluster randomized trial

Background: Rewarding provider performance has been recommended by the Institute of Medicine as an approach to improve the quality of treatment, yet little empirical research currently exists that has examined the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of such approaches. The aim of this study is to test the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of providing monetary incentives directly to therapists as a method to improve substance abuse treatment service delivery and subsequent client treatment outcomes.

Design: Using a cluster randomized design, substance abuse treatment therapists from across 29 sites were assigned by site to either an implementation as usual (IAU) or pay-for-performance (P4P) condition.

Participants: Substance abuse treatment therapists participating in a large dissemination and implementation initiative funded by the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment.

Intervention: Therapists in both conditions received comprehensive training and ongoing monitoring, coaching, and feedback. However, those in the P4P condition also were given the opportunity to earn monetary incentives for achieving two sets of measurable behaviors related to quality implementation of the treatment.

Outcomes: Effectiveness outcomes will focus on the impact of the monetary incentives to increase the proportion of adolescents who receive a targeted threshold level of treatment, months that therapists demonstrate monthly competency, and adolescents who are in recovery following treatment. Similarly, cost-effectiveness outcomes will focus on cost per adolescent receiving targeted threshold level of treatment, cost per month of demonstrated competence, and cost per adolescent in recovery.


Garner, B. R., Godley, S. H., Dennis, M. L., Godley, M. D., & Shepard, D. S. (2010). The Reinforcing Therapist Performance (RTP) experiment: Study protocol for a cluster randomized trial. Implementation Science, 5. https://doi.org/10.1186/1748-5908-5-5

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