Novel treatments for alcohol dependence: a randomised controlled trial of structured stepped-care intervention for psychiatric comorbidity

Paul S. Haber, Stefanie Leung, Andrew Baillie, Claudia Sannibale, Maree Teesson

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting abstractpeer-review


Introduction and Aims: A major barrier to successful treatment
of alcohol dependence is psychiatric comorbidity. These comorbid
disorders are associated with greater disability and greater use of
health services, and also predict poor treatment response. This study
aimed to improve treatment outcomes for people with alcohol
dependence and comorbid anxiety and/or depression through
implementation of a novel stepped care intervention.
Design and Methods: This study adopted a randomised controlled
parallel design. Thirty seven alcohol-dependent patients with a
clinical diagnosis of anxiety and/or depression were included in the
intention-to-treat analysis. Participants were randomised to one of
two treatment arms: (i) a novel intervention comprising of specifi c
cognitive behavioural therapy (n = 21); or (ii) usual-care typically
comprising brief individualised motivation enhancement therapy
(n = 16), and all were prescribed a concurrent 12 week course
of anti-craving medication. Participants completed a series of
questionnaires on alcohol consumption, severity of anxiety/depressive
symptoms and service access at baseline and after 12 weeks on their
allocated treatment.
Results: Baseline characteristics were comparable for participants
randomised to the novel intervention and usual-care. Following the
12 week treatment period, novel intervention participants showed
signifi cant resolution of their anxiety, stress and alcohol severity
scores compared to usual care participants. They also attended
signifi cantly more appointments over the treatment period and
achieved signifi cantly higher rates of abstinence from drinking.
Discussion and Conclusions: The novel stepped-care intervention
in this study was more effective at achieving abstinence from drinking
than the usual care intervention, and was also more successful in
retaining patients to treatment. This provides support for the novel
treatment being of value in improving treatment outcomes for
patients with alcohol dependence and comorbid depression/anxiety
Original languageEnglish
Article number332
Pages (from-to)37-37
Number of pages1
JournalDrug and Alcohol Review
Issue numberS1
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2011
EventAustralasian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs Conference 2011 - Hobart, Australia
Duration: 13 Nov 201116 Nov 2011


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