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Self-efficacy, therapeutic alliance, and alcohol-use disorder treatment outcomes.

Ilgen M, Tiet Q, Finney J, Moos RH. Self-efficacy, therapeutic alliance, and alcohol-use disorder treatment outcomes. Journal of Studies On Alcohol. 2006 May 1; 67(3):465-72.

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OBJECTIVE: High abstinence self-efficacy reliably predicts better treatment outcomes for patients with alcohol use disorders, but little is known about aspects of treatment that may be particularly beneficial for patients who enter treatment with low self-efficacy. This study examines whether the relationship between self-efficacy and treatment outcomes is influenced by the quality of the therapeutic alliance in Project MATCH (Matching Alcoholism Treatments to Client Heterogeneity), a multisite clinical trial of three treatments for alcohol use disorders. METHOD: Information on 785 patients in the outpatient sample of Project MATCH was used to test for an interaction between baseline self-efficacy and therapeutic alliance in relation to 1-year alcohol use outcomes. RESULTS: A significant interaction was found between self-efficacy and the therapists' perception of the therapeutic alliance predicting I1year drinking outcomes. Patients with low self-efficacy who established a strong treatment alliance, as judged by the therapist, experienced I1year outcomes that were superior to those of patients with low self-efficacy with poorer treatment alliance and comparable with those of patients with high self-efficacy. Therapeutic alliance was not strongly related to the outcomes of patients with high baseline self-efficacy. CONCLUSIONS: In patients who are treated for alcohol-use disorders, a positive therapeutic alliance may counteract the negative impact of a low baseline self-efficacy. Potential reasons why the therapist's perception of the alliance may be particularly important for patients with low self-efficacy are discussed.

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