Improving Alcoholism Treatment in the "Real World"

By Kathleen Weaver

Release Date: December 14, 2005 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Early in 2006, researchers at the University at Buffalo's Research Institute on Addictions (RIA) will be going into the field with a study designed to translate alcoholism research findings into the "real world" of community-based substance abuse treatment clinics.

The study is supported by a $2,670,633 grant awarded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

One hundred and fifty New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services outpatient clinics across the state will be invited to participate over the course of the two-year recruitment period. Staff at the clinics will receive an intensive package of materials and an on-site presentation focusing on a Motivational Interviewing(MI)-based preparatory session. During the year after receiving the materials, clinicians will be asked to complete short questionnaires regarding whether they have incorporated the technique into their clinical work.

MI, which originated in the field of addictions, is a powerful client-centered method for exploring and resolving the natural ambivalence that clients have toward change. An MI-based preparatory session, delivered early in treatment, may reduce the risk that clients will end treatment prematurely and increase the likelihood that clients will make needed changes in their drinking.

"In a clinical trial conducted at RIA, we have shown that an MI-based preparatory session reduces treatment dropout rates, increases session attendance and improves treatment outcomes for outpatient clients," Kimberly S. Walitzer, Ph.D., explained. "If we can help individuals stay in treatment, we have a better chance of helping them make real changes in their lives."

Walitzer, RIA's deputy director, is the principal investigator on the study. She also is a research associate professor in the Department of Psychology, UB College of Arts and Sciences.

"We will focus on the extent to which clinicians and treatment programs adopt the MI-based method," Walitzer noted. "For example, we will ask the clinicians and the program directors about their use of the new technique and will assess whether either partial or modified adoption of the new method affects client outcomes."

Researchers hope to provide valuable information to governmental bodies and health-care organizations interested in using the MI-preparatory session.

Walitzer's co-investigators on the award are Kurt H. Dermen, Ph.D., research scientist and principal investigator at RIA, and Gerard J. Connors, Ph.D., RIA Director and professor in UB's Department of Psychology. Christopher Barrick, Ph.D., is a research scientist and the project director on this study.

The Research Institute on Addictions has been a leader in the study of addiction since 1970 and a research center of the University at Buffalo since 1999.

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, the largest and most comprehensive campus in the State University of New York.