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The Impact of Alcohol Use on Drop-out and Psychological Treatment Outcomes in Improving Access to Psychological Therapies Services: an Audit

  • J.E.J. Buckman (a1) (a2), I. Naismith (a3), R. Saunders (a1), T. Morrison (a4), S. Linke (a5), J. Leibowitz (a2) and S. Pilling (a1) (a2)...

Abstract

Background: The impact of alcohol use disorders (AUD) on psychological treatments for depression or anxiety in primary care psychological treatment services is unknown. Aims: To establish levels of alcohol misuse in an Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) service, examine the impact of higher risk drinking on IAPT treatment outcomes and drop-out, and to inform good practice in working with alcohol misuse in IAPT services. Method: 3643 patients completed a brief questionnaire on alcohol use pre-treatment in addition to measures of depression, anxiety and functioning. Symptom and functioning measures were re-administered at all treatment sessions. Results: Severity of alcohol misuse was not associated with treatment outcomes, although those scoring eight or more on the AUDIT-C were more likely to drop out from treatment. Conclusions: IAPT services may be well placed to offer psychological therapies to patients with common mental disorders and comorbid AUD. Patients with AUD can have equivalent treatment outcomes to those without AUD, but some higher risk drinkers may find accessing IAPT treatment more difficult as they are more likely to drop out. Alcohol misuse on its own should not be used as an exclusion criterion from IAPT services. Recommendations are given as to how clinicians can: adjust their assessments to consider the appropriateness of IAPT treatment for patients that misuse alcohol, consider the potential impact of alcohol misuse on treatment, and improve engagement in treatment for higher risk drinkers.

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Copyright

This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Dr Joshua E.J. Buckman, Clinical Research Fellow, Research Department of Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology, University College London, 1–19 Torrington Place, LondonWC1E 7HB. E-mail: Joshua.buckman@ucl.ac.uk

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The Impact of Alcohol Use on Drop-out and Psychological Treatment Outcomes in Improving Access to Psychological Therapies Services: an Audit

  • J.E.J. Buckman (a1) (a2), I. Naismith (a3), R. Saunders (a1), T. Morrison (a4), S. Linke (a5), J. Leibowitz (a2) and S. Pilling (a1) (a2)...
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