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Telehealth May Help People Stick With Alcoholism Treatment
  • Posted April 1, 2024

Telehealth May Help People Stick With Alcoholism Treatment

Telehealth might be a more effective way of treating alcoholism than in-person therapy sessions, a new study reports.

Alcoholics who receive treatment through telehealth were more likely to engage in more therapy visits and stick to anti-alcohol medication longer than those who venture out for alcohol use disorder therapy, researchers found.

These results are "particularly important in the current context, as the United States debates whether to sustain or revoke pandemic-era policies that decreased barriers to telehealth,"concluded the research team led by Dr. Ponni Perumalswami, of the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System.

For the study, researchers analyzed data from the Veterans Administration gathered during the pandemic, from March 2020 to February 2021, on more than 138,000 patients diagnosed with alcohol use disorder.

During the study period, 53% of patients had at least one video visit, 38% had at least one telephone visit but no video visits, and 9% had only in-person visits, researchers said.

Telehealth was associated with more therapy visits and medication use compared with in-person visits, researchers found.

What's more, among those who received treatment through telehealth, video visits prompted significantly more therapy sessions than telephone visits.

Black patients were less likely to receive video telehealth treatment and were more likely to have in-person visits, highlighting "important disparities in alcohol use disorder telehealth use,"researchers said.

The new study was published recently in the journal Alcohol, Clinical and Experimental Research.

More information

The Cleveland Clinic has more about alcohol use disorder.

SOURCE: American Psychiatric Association, news release

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