Single blind randomised trial of supportive text messages for patients with alcohol use disorder and a comorbid depression

Most patients who present with problem drinking also present with mood problems. Problem drinking and mood problems co-occurring together in individuals lead them to have more severe symptoms, greater disability and poorer quality of life than individuals with only problem drinking, and they pose a greater economic burden to society due to their higher use of health services. We seek to develop a new, enhanced, efficient, innovative and cost effective treatment strategy aimed at reducing the burden that these co-occurring conditions impose on the suffers and their families as well as the community and health systems.
In a recent pilot study of supportive text messages for patients with problem drinking and co-occurring depression, we established that patients who received twice daily supportive text messages for three months had significantly less depressive symptoms than those who did not receive such messages. There was also a trend to finding that patients who received the supportive text messages were more likely to have higher alcohol free days than those who did not receive any supportive text messages.
This study seeks to extend the knowledge gained from the pilot study. We will randomly assign a larger group of patients with problem drinking and any kind of mood disorder into two groups. One group will receive supportive text messages for six months duration whilst the other group will receive no supportive text messages. We will follow the patients up at six months and again at 12 months to determine which of the two groups would have less alcohol and mood problems. We anticipate that patients receiving supportive text messages would report significantly greater alcohol free days as well as significantly less relapses, hospitalizations and mood symptoms than those not receiving such messages. The technology would also be acceptable to patients as well as cost effective.

Award Date
20 June 2014
Award Value
Principal Investigator
Dr Conor Farren
Host Institution
Trinity College Dublin
Health Research Awards