A clinical trial has found that telephone-based interventions can be effective in reducing problem drinking. Researchers from Australia conducted a double-blind, randomized clinical trial involving 344 individuals with problem alcohol use from the general population.
Participants were randomly assigned to either a telephone-based cognitive and behavioral intervention or an active control group. The telephone-based intervention involved 4 to 6 telephone sessions with a psychologist, while the active control group comprised four 5-minute telephone check-ins from a researcher and alcohol and stress management pamphlets.
The primary outcome of the trial was the change in alcohol problem severity, measured using the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) total score. Drinking patterns were also measured using the Timeline Followback instrument.
The results showed that reductions in alcohol problem severity were not significantly different between the intervention and control groups at 3 months. However, the intervention was associated with a significantly greater reduction in hazardous alcohol use and a reduction in alcohol problem severity when 2 or more sessions were delivered.
The trial is significant because it highlights the potential benefits of a highly scalable and accessible model of alcohol treatment. Treatment uptake for alcohol use problems remains low despite the magnitude of alcohol use problems globally. Telephone-delivered interventions have the potential to overcome many structural and individual barriers to help-seeking.
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In this clinical trial, only a few people had tried to get help for their drinking problem before, even though most of them had a really serious problem with alcohol. This means that using the phone to help people with their drinking could be a good way to reach those who don't have other options or who are too scared to ask for help in person.
Although the trial did not find superior effectiveness of the telephone-based intervention compared to the active control group in reducing AUDIT total score, the results demonstrate the potential benefits of this type of intervention. The clinical trial highlights the importance of providing multiple sessions to achieve better outcomes and reduce hazardous alcohol use.
It is important to note that while telephone-based interventions have the potential to be effective, they may not be suitable for everyone. Individuals with severe alcohol dependence may require more intensive treatment, such as inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation.
This clinical trial provides evidence that telephone-based interventions can be an effective tool in reducing problem drinking. The intervention has the potential to reach a wider population and overcome barriers to help-seeking. It is important to provide multiple sessions to achieve better outcomes and reduce hazardous alcohol use. However, it is important to note that telephone-based interventions may not be suitable for everyone and individuals with severe alcohol dependence may require more intensive treatment.
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Treatments and clinical trials mentioned may not be appropriate or available for all trial participants. Outcomes from treatments and clinical trials may vary from person to person. Consult with your doctor as to whether a clinical trial is a suitable option for your condition.
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