Adoption and implementation of computer-assisted therapy using Breaking Free Online within a substance misuse organisation, Crime Reduction Initiatives: A qualitative study based on Rogers’ Diffusion of Innovation Theory

First published: 10 May 2019 | Last updated: 20 May 2019

Aims: This study sought to explore staff and service user experiences of the adoption and implementation of computer assisted therapy (CAT), Breaking Free Online (BFO) for substance dependence throughout a large national drug and alcohol treatment service, Crime Reduction Initiative (CRI). Design: Semi-structured interviews were conducted. Setting: Interviews were conducted at a number of CRI services. Participants: These were 18 service managers, practitioners, peer mentors and service users at CRI. Measurements: Data were thematically analysed and themes conceptualised using Roger’s Diffusion of Innovation theory (Rogers, 1995, 2002, 2004). Findings: A number of challenges to adoption of BFO throughout CRI were identified within the social system and included lack of IT resources and skills, in addition to difficulties with finding effective methods of implementation. However, there were a number of perceived benefits of adoption of BFO throughout CRI including broadening access to treatments to support recovery from substance dependence. Intentions around longer term continuation of adoption were also reported, with this being supported through changes to the social system and the individuals operating within it. Conclusions: The introduction of innovations such as BFO within large organisations like CRI may be perceived as disruptive even when individuals recognise benefits to the introduction of the innovation. Sustained adoption of such innovations requires changes within the social system, both on an organisational and individual level. Recommendations are made for adoption of new digital technology within large organisations that may be relevant to criminal justice, health and social care organisations working within substance misuse sectors.


Davies, Glyn, Breaking Free Online; Ward, Jonathan, Breaking Free Online


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Dr Sarah Elison