Challenges in motivating treatment enrollment in community syringe exchange participants

Michael Kidorf, Elizabeth Disney, Van King, Ken Kolodner, Peter Beilenson, Robert K. Brooner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Participants of syringe exchange programs (SEPs) exhibit high rates of substance use disorder but remain extremely ambivalent about seeking treatment. This study evaluated the effectiveness of motivational interviewing (MI) for encouraging SEP participants to enroll in substance abuse treatment. New opioid-dependent registrants to the Baltimore Needle Exchange Program (BNEP) (n=302) completed the Structured Clinical Interview for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition (DSM-IV), and the Addiction Severity Index (ASI) and were randomly assigned to one of three treatment referral conditions: (1) Ml, (2) job readiness (JR) (attention control), or (3) standard referral. Participants in each condition who expressed interest in treatment were referred to a treatment readiness group that provided further encouragement and referral to programs that were accepting new admissions. Participants were observed for 1 year following the intervention. The results showed that 10.9% of study participants enrolled in substance abuse treatment, although no condition effects were observed. White participants and those diagnosed with major depression were most likely to enter treatment. The results suggest that a single motivational interview is insufficient to motivate changes in treatment seeking in this population, whereas the identification of predictors of treatment enrollment is worthy of further investigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)456-467
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Urban Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Major depression
  • Motivational interviewing
  • Opioid abuse
  • Substance abuse treatment
  • Syringe exchange

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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