Appreciations and analyses of seminal studies of lasting significance from the past starting with the analyses most recently added or updated, totalling today 40 documents. Dates in orange refer to publication date of the original study or (if several) of the earliest of the studies. For other seminal studies see those listed in the cells of the alcohol and drug treatment matrices
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STUDY 1977 HTM file
Effect of counselor expectations on alcoholic recovery
Could negativity about the recovery chances of disadvantaged drinkers become self-fulfilling prophecies? This hidden gem study from the late ’70s suggests they can, and that bolstering counsellors’ expectations promotes commitment to treatment and recovery among the least promising of clients.
STUDY 1992 HTM file
Disulfiram treatment of alcoholism
Still relevant today, from the early 1990s a UK randomised trial of disulfiram in the treatment of alcohol dependence found that it significantly reduced drinking when there was daily supervision to make sure patients took the tablets, and they knew these would cause unpleasant physical effects if they drank.
‘A minute makes a difference in primary care consultations’, was the finding of a 1992 study about improving the capacity of general practitioners to screen for problems such as heavy drinking, smoking, and high blood pressure. But is extra time on the clock enough to secure routine (as opposed to more frequent) delivery of health promotion and brief intervention?
STUDY 1962 HTM file
The abstinent alcoholic
Classic description of the patient who has sustained abstinence after treatment but is still unhappy, unfulfilled and/or nervously hanging on – in other words, not really ‘recovered’. They formed the majority of patients seen at Connecticut’s alcohol clinics in the 1950s who were not drinking at follow-up.
DOCUMENT 1987 HTM file
High time for harm reduction
Impelled by the injecting-related AIDS crisis, Merseyside was where harm reduction in the UK first took root. From there in 1987 came this groundbreaking call for a turn away from what was seen as a failed attempt to prevent use to mitigating the harm. Expressed modestly as a “prudent” suggestion, with Russell Newcombe’s essay, “harm reduction” had come of age.
The unexpected resignations of two counsellors at a US methadone clinic in early 1985 triggered a unique study of the influence of counsellors on their patients’ recovery. Its insight remains relevant today, and the study has been added to the Effectiveness Bank as a piece of ‘old gold’.
STUDY 1966 HTM file
Treatment of skid-row alcoholics with disulfiram
In the early ’60s in Atlanta in the USA, a pioneering trial tested whether faced with the alternative of another spell in jail, ‘skid-row’ repeat drunkenness offenders would take a drug which generates deterrent reactions to alcohol. Most did, belying their supposedly hopeless condition.
Early US study uncovered for the Alcohol Treatment Matrix found a Rogerian client-centred therapy characterised by non-directive, empathic listening beneficially changed self-perceptions of alcohol-dependent patients and reduced relapse compared to approaches based on learning theory or psychoanalysis.
Uncovered in our search for seminal studies for the Alcohol Treatment Matrix, a piece of old gold … Hampered by problems with implementation, this evaluation of an early controlled drinking brief intervention showed no advantage for patients over basic advice (or no intervention at all), prefiguring later findings from larger trials.
Seminal study that validated motivational interviewing’s empathic, client-centred style. It suggested that by not provoking resistance, the non-confrontational style mandated by motivational interviewing reduced drinking compared to the then more typical blunt and challenging approach.
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