Background: Group psychotherapy (PT) is one of the most common interventions used to treat alcohol dependence (AD), and it is assumed to be effective. Despite its common clinical use, long-term trials that have been conducted to examine the efficacy of group PT in the treatment of outpatients with AD are limited and often lack appropriate comparisons. On that basis, a long-term comparative trial was performed with the main objective of evaluating the effectiveness of continuing group PT for outpatients with AD.
Methods: Quasi-experimental trial was conducted from January 2004 to May 2010 in 177 AD subjects who had completed an inpatient 10-week alcohol treatment program. Abstinence rates of the combined group (experimental group: outpatient individual PT plus group PT, N = 94) and the standard outpatient individual PT-only group (comparison group, N = 83) were statistically compared using Kaplan–Meier survival analysis. Predictive factors of abstinence rate for alcohol were assessed using Cox regression analysis.
Results: Abstinence rates of the combined PT group were significantly high relative to those of the outpatient individual PT-only group. Significant predictive factors for the alcohol abstinence rate were outpatient group PT and age. Even after controlling for confounding factors, outpatient group PT was a significant predictive factor for the alcohol abstinence rate.
Conclusions: Our findings indicate that for AD patients who had completed an inpatient 10-week alcohol treatment, outpatient group PT appears to be an effective form of continuing care or aftercare within the context of an outpatient service delivery system.