Collective Voice Logo

Voluntary sector drug and alcohol treatment and recovery services engagement with academic and clinical research projects. 

Share this

Partnership working between those leading research and drug and alcohol services can ensure that research findings and innovations developed from them meet the needs of service users and can be effectively translated into practice. 

In September 2023, Collective Voice and the Office for Life Sciences Addiction Mission convened representatives from voluntary sector drug and alcohol treatment and recovery organisations, for a roundtable discussion on the barriers to and facilitators of voluntary sector engagement with research bodies and projects.


Throughout the discussions, overarching challenges were highlighted which have contributed to limitations on voluntary sector organisations’ ability to engage in clinical research projects. Some of these challenges relate to structural issues within the sector, such as limits on organisational capacity, the skills and expertise available within the voluntary sector workforce, or the nature of service commissioning and delivery.


Other issues such as regulatory constraints, constraints on providers’ ability to engage with regulatory bodies, and burdensome processes to gain ethics approval or to complete necessary documentation were also highlighted. 


Furthermore, there were a number of concerns raised around the nature of research proposed or undertaken. It was suggested that providers’ relationship to their service users, and the type of research they would prioritise as being in their service users’ best interests, might not always align with the priorities of researchers. 


These challenges, along with measures suggested for overcoming them and some instances of good practice, are explored throughout this briefing before outlining the next steps that Collective Voice is taking to support the Addiction Mission to further engage with voluntary sector treatment and recovery providers in their work.

Related Content


Collective Voice is the national charity working to improve England’s drug and alcohol treatment and recovery systems