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Open Access Study protocol

Evaluating real-time internet therapy and online self-help for problematic alcohol consumers: a three-arm RCT protocol

Matthijs Blankers1*, Maarten Koeter2 and Gerard M Schippers3

Author Affiliations

1 Amsterdam Institute for Addiction Research (AIAR), Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, Department of Psychiatry, Room PB 0.425, PO Box 75867, 1070 AW Amsterdam, the Netherlands

2 Amsterdam Institute for Addiction Research (AIAR), Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, Department of Psychiatry, Room PA 1.181, PO Box 75867, 1070 AW Amsterdam, the Netherlands

3 Amsterdam Institute for Addiction Research (AIAR), Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, Department of Psychiatry, Room PA 1.190, PO Box 75867, 1070 AW Amsterdam, the Netherlands

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BMC Public Health 2009, 9:16  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-9-16

Published: 14 January 2009

Abstract

Background

Only a minority of all alcohol- and drug abusers is receiving professional care. In an attempt to narrow this treatment gap, treatment facilities experiment with online healthcare. Therefore, it is important to test the (cost-)effectiveness of online health interventions in a randomized clinical trial.

Methods

This paper presents the protocol of a three-arm randomized clinical trial to test the (cost-) effectiveness of online treatment for problem drinkers. Self-help online, therapy online and a waiting list are tested against each other. Primary outcome is change in alcohol consumption. Secondary outcome measures include quality of life and working ability. Incremental cost-effectiveness ratios for self-help online alcohol and therapy online alcohol will be calculated. The predictive validity of participant characteristics on treatment adherence and outcome will be explored.

Discussion

To our best knowledge, this randomized clinical trial will be the first to test the effectiveness of therapy online against both self-help online and a waiting-list. It will provide evidence on (cost-) effectiveness of online treatment for problem drinkers and investigate outcome predictors.

Trial registration

This trial is registered in the Dutch Trialregister (Cochrane Collaboration) and traceable as NTR-TC1155.