A feasibility study of Moving On In My Recovery

13 May 2021


Dr Lee M. Hogan, NHS Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Assessment Director at the North Wales Clinical Psychology Programme, Bangor University; Professor Miles Cox, Emeritus Professor of Psychology, School of Psychology, Bangor University; Dr Mansour Bagheri, Lecturer at the London School of Science and Technology; Brad Morgan, Expert by Experience; and Dr Hannah Rettie, trainee clinical psychologist, University of Bath

Key findings

  • The Moving On In My Recovery programme is a viable intervention for a larger randomised control effectiveness trial.
  • The measures used in the study were acceptable to participants.
  • Recruitment into groups that have previously been established within a service location are likely to have better retention rates than newly established group programmes.
  • Service users’ involvement in the research process is highly valued and recommended for future endeavours.
  • Moving On In My Recovery appears to have good ecological validity and promising outcomes.

Executive summary

This project set out to test the feasibility and acceptability of the Moving On In My Recovery (MOIMR) programme. MOIMR is a 12-session, acceptance-based cognitive behavioural group programme that was co-produced and is co-facilitated by treatment professionals and service users in recovery (Hogan, 2016). The primary aim of MOIMR is to bridge the gap between formal treatment provision and mutual aid (i.e., to assist service users who have attained a period of abstinence in treatment to access wider mutual aid).

Sixty-one participants were recruited from six group programmes hosted by BCUHB substance misuse services and the North Wales Recovery Community. Aside of assessing feasibility for a larger randomised controlled trial, study aims were to determine whether participants experienced improvements in terms of their psychological flexibility and wellbeing. Participants completed baseline questionnaires prior to starting the group programme, immediately following the last group session (12-weeks after baseline), and then again, at a further 3-month follow up; at the two follow-up sessions participants completed the baseline questionnaires and took part in a focus group. Participants who dropped out of the group programme were also contacted at the follow-up time-point and they were interviewed about their experience.

The study confirmed that a larger randomised controlled trial (RCT) to evaluate the effectiveness of Moving On In My Recovery would be viable. Using pre-determined criteria, it was established that recruitment was feasible, that the study measures were suitable and they were completed satisfactorily. Attrition (at 52%) was higher than anticipated although possibly at a level that is reasonable for this population and an intervention of such intensity. The ecological validity of the intervention itself was high: participants reported that the intervention had a profound effect on their lives and the skills they acquired had led to improvements in confidence, self-esteem, communication and in many other ways. Significant improvements in recovery capital, mood and anxiety were shown at the end of the group programme and these were sustained at a three-month follow-up; psychological flexibility and social functioning was significantly improved at the three-month follow-up. Three-month abstinence rates improved from 55% at baseline to 62% at post-group to 68% at a three-month follow-up. Follow-up interviews with seven participants who dropped out of the programme yielded insufficient data for analysis.

The service users’ perspective of the intervention was highly positive. All of the participants who were interviewed praised the programme highly, and some of those who dropped out indicated that they intended to join a group in the future. The participants particularly valued the co-facilitation of groups by people with lived experiences. Interestingly, many participants described their initial reluctance to attend a group-based intervention, but also how this resistance lifted as they became more comfortable in the group setting. Participants described being on a shared journey with other group members and even with the facilitators. It seems that the structure and framework of the group was something that had been missing from the lives of the people struggling with addiction. The group made profound impacts on the participants’ lives, and many felt it should be more widely available and as a form of continuous support for people in recovery. In short, participants were transformed from being reticent about groups to being champions of them.