The positive outcomes of therapy for alcoholism may have less to do with the therapy itself and more to do with participants’ determination to quit. These are the findings of a study published today in the international Open Access journal, BMC Public Health, which provides a new analysis of previous data from Project MATCH, a clinical trial of three common forms of therapy used for the treatment of alcoholism. This analysis shows that the participants in the trial who attended all sessions did scarcely better than those who received no treatment. This contradicts previous analyses, which concluded that all three therapies for alcoholism were very effective.
The results highlight the importance of selection bias – the distortion of a statistical analysis by self-selection of participants. Individuals who come forward to take part in trials such as Project MATCH might be more likely to have positive outcomes.
“Alcoholics who decide to enter treatment are likely to reduce drinking. Those who decrease their drinking are more likely to remain in treatment”, explain Robert Cutler and David Fishbain from the department of psychiatry and behavioural sciences at the University of Miami, the authors of the study.
Juliette Savin | alfa
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