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Treating alcohol problems: a study of programme effectiveness and cost effectiveness according to length and delivery of treatment

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Aims. To compare effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of a 5-week inpatient and a two week in- and day-patient regime . Design. Pre-post assessment of consecutive treatment referrals with follow-up at 6 and 12 months. In a sequential study design, 112 patients underwent a 5-week residential programme while a subsequent 100 patients underwent a 2-week in- and day-patient programme. To investigate the effect of changing programme delivery, patient groups from before and after the programme changes were compared . Setting. Addiction treatment unit in an independent hospital . Participants. One hundred and thirty-six males and 76 female patients with an ICD-10 diagnosis of Alcohol Dependence Syndrome . Measurements. Self-report (Comprehensive Drinkers Profile: Follow-Up Drinkers Profile: SADQ), collateral report (Collateral Interview Form) and blood test (MCV & GGT) data were used to categorize patients into abstinent, non-problem drinker, drinking but improved and unimproved groups. Percentage of days abstinent, intensity of drinking, length of time in treatment, treatment cost and use of aftercare were also measured . Findings. Abstinence or non-problem drinking was achieved by 55.6% of all patients at 1 year. Change in programme delivery did not affect outcome but treatment costs and mean length of stay for the revised programme were significantly reduced . Conclusions. A two week in- and day-patient treatment was more cost effective than a 5-week inpatient treatment. Design limitations make these conclusions tentative pending a randomized controlled trial.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: April 1, 1998

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