An evaluation of brief correspondence programs for problem drinkers

David J. Kavanagh*, Thiagarajan Sitharthan, Georgina Spilsbury, Sumitra Vignaendra

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


The provision of accessible and cost-effective treatment to a large number of problem drinkers is a significant challenge to health services. Previous data suggest that a correspondence intervention may assist in these efforts. We recruited 277 people with alcohol abuse problems and randomly allocated them to immediate cognitive behavioral treatment by correspondence (ICBT), 2 months in a waiting list (WL2-CBT), self-monitoring (SM2-CBT), or extended self-monitoring (SM6-CBT). Everyone received correspondence CBT after the control period. Over 2 months later, no drop in alcohol intake occurred in the waiting list, and CBT had a greater impact than SM. No further gains from SM were seen after 2 months. Effects of CBT were well maintained and were equivalent, whether it was received immediately or after 2 to 6 months of self-monitoring. Weekly alcohol intake fell 48% from pretreatment to 18.6 alcohol units at 12 months. Our results confirmed that correspondence CBT for alcohol abuse was accessible and effective for people with low physical dependence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)641-656
Number of pages16
JournalBehavior Therapy
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1999
Externally publishedYes


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