Alcohol Treatment

Finney et al. (1996) reviewed fourteen studies of Alcohol abuse and found that seven showed no significant differences in drinking outcomes between inpatient and outpatient treatment, five showed inpatient treatment to be superior, and in two studies a day hospital outpatient treatment was more effective. In the studies that found inpatient treatment to be more effective, patients in the comparative outpatient programs were less likely to receive an initial period of inpatient detoxification and these studies were slightly less likely than those finding no treatment differences to randomly assign patients to treatment. Unless subjects are randomly assigned to each of the treatments, no way exists of knowing whether the findings were due to different kinds of patients volunteering for the different types of treatment. On the other hand, it could be argued that random assignment is an artificial selection process that makes it difficult to generalize findings to ''real life'' situation. Among the studies that compared costs, treatment in outpatient settings was less expensive than treatment in inpatient settings. Overall, the investigators concluded that there were no differences between inpatient and outpatient treatments. However, particular types of patients (e.g., those with medical/ psychiatric impairments) may benefit more from inpatient treatment.

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