Counselling for Alcohol Problems

The Lancet,  Nadkarni, Weobong, B et al, volume 389, No 10065, p186-194, 14th January 2017

A study has been published in The Lancet ‘Counselling for Alcohol Problems (CAP), a lay counsellor-delivered brief psychological treatment for harmful drinking in men, in primary care in India: a randomised controlled trial’.


Although structured psychological treatments are recommended as first-line interventions for harmful drinking, only a small fraction of people globally receive these treatments because of poor access in routine primary care. The study looked at the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of Counselling for Alcohol Problems (CAP), a brief psychological treatment delivered by lay counsellors to patients with harmful drinking attending routine primary health-care settings.

In this randomised controlled trial, male harmful drinkers were recruited, defined by an Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) score of 12–19 who were aged 18–65 years from ten primary health centres in Goa, India. Patients were excluded if they needed emergency medical treatment or inpatient admission, who were unable to communicate clearly, and who were intoxicated at the time of screening. Participants were randomly allocated (1:1) by trained health assistants based at the primary health centres to enhanced usual care (EUC) alone or EUC combined with CAP, in randomly sized blocks of four to six, stratified by primary health centre, and allocation was concealed with use of sequential numbered opaque envelopes.

The researchers concluded that CAP delivered by lay counsellors plus EUC was better than EUC alone was for harmful drinkers in routine primary health-care settings, and might be cost-effective. CAP could be a key strategy to reduce the treatment gap for alcohol use disorders, one of the leading causes of the global burden among men worldwide.

Read the full text here


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