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Monday, June 18, 2012

Craving as a Predictor of Treatment Outcomes in Heavy Drinkers with Comorbid Depressed Mood

Alcohol and depression comorbidity is high and is associated with poorer outcomes following treatment. The ability to predict likely treatment response would be advantageous for treatment planning. Craving has been widely studied as a potential predictor, but has performed inconsistently. The effect of comorbid depression on craving's predictive performance however, has been largely neglected, despite demonstrated associations between negative affect and craving.

The current study examined the performance of craving, measured pre-treatment using the Obsessive subscale of the Obsessive Compulsive Drinking Scale, in predicting 18-week and 12-month post-treatment alcohol use outcomes in a sample of depressed drinkers.

Data for the current study were collected during a randomized controlled trial (Baker, Kavanagh, Kay-Lambkin, Hunt, Lewin, Carr, & Connolly, 2010) comparing treatments for comorbid alcohol and depression. A subset of 260 participants from that trial with a Timeline Followback measure of alcohol consumption were analyzed.

Pre-treatment craving was a significant predictor of average weekly alcohol consumption at 18 weeks and of frequency of alcohol binges at 18 weeks and 12 months, but pre-treatment depressive mood was not predictive, and effects of Baseline craving were independent of depressive mood.

Results suggest a greater ongoing risk from craving than from depressive mood at Baseline.

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