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Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2003 Nov;27(11):1757-64.

I. Veterans Affairs Cooperative Study of polyenylphosphatidylcholine in alcoholic liver disease: effects on drinking behavior by nurse/physician teams.

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Bronx Veterans Affairs Medical Center and the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York 10468, USA.



This multicenter prospective, randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled trial was designed to evaluate the effectiveness of polyenylphosphatidylcholine against the progression of liver fibrosis toward cirrhosis in alcoholics. Seven hundred eighty-nine alcoholics with an average intake of 16 drinks per day were enrolled. To control excessive drinking, patients were referred to a standard 12-step-based alcoholism treatment program, but most patients refused to attend. Accordingly, study follow-up procedures incorporated the essential features of the brief-intervention approach. An overall substantial and sustained reduction in drinking was observed. Hepatic histological and other findings are described in a companion article.


Patients were randomized to receive daily three tablets of either polyenylphosphatidylcholine or placebo. Monthly follow-up visits included an extensive session with a medical nurse along with brief visits with a study physician (hepatologist or gastroenterologist). A detailed physical examination occurred every 6 months. In addition, telephone consultations with the nurse were readily available. All patients had a liver biopsy before entry; a repeat biopsy was scheduled at 24 and 48 months.


There was a striking decrease in average daily alcohol intake to approximately 2.5 drinks per day. This was sustained over the course of the trial, lasting from 2 to 6 years. The effect was similar both in early dropouts and long-term patients, i.e., those with a 24-month biopsy or beyond.


In a treatment trial of alcoholic liver fibrosis, a striking reduction in alcohol consumption from 16 to 2.5 daily drinks was achieved with a brief-intervention approach, which consisted of a relative economy of therapeutic efforts that relied mainly on treatment sessions with a medical nurse accompanied by shorter reinforcing visits with a physician. This approach deserves generalization to address the heavy drinking problems commonly encountered in primary care and medical specialty practices.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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