A significant amount of research has supported the efficacy of couple versus individual treatment for alcohol use disorders, yet little is known about whether involving a significant other during the course of individual treatment can improve outcomes. Likewise, several barriers to couple treatment exist and a more flexible approach to significant other involvement may be warranted.
This study constituted secondary analyses of the COMBINE data, a randomized clinical trial that combined pharmacotherapy and behavioral intervention for alcohol dependence. Data were drawn from the 16-week individual combined behavioral intervention (CBI), which had 776 participants, 31% of which were female, and 23% were non-white. The current study examined whether attendance by a supportive significant other (SSO) during CBI sessions would predict better outcomes. It was further hypothesized that active SSO involvement, defined by attendance during drink refusal or communication skills training sessions, would predict better outcomes.
SSOs attended at least 1 session for 26.9% of clients. Clients with SSOs who attended at least 1 session had significantly fewer drinking days and fewer drinking-related problems at the end of treatment. The presence of an SSO during a drink refusal training session predicted significantly better outcomes, as compared to SSO attendance at other sessions and drink refusal training without an SSO present. SSO attendance at a communication training session did not predict better outcomes.
These results suggest that specific types of active involvement may be important for SSO-involved treatment to have greater efficacy than individual treatment.
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