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Addiction. 1997 Apr;92(4):459-68.

Community psychiatric nurse aftercare for alcoholics: a five-year follow-up study.

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Addiction Treatment Unit, Tyrone and Fermanagh Hospital, Omagh, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, UK.


The aim of this study was to determine if community psychiatric nurse (CPN) aftercare for 1 year improved the 5-year outcome in patients following inpatient treatment for alcohol dependence. A 5-year follow-up study, observer blind, with non-random allocation of subjects to aftercare by CPN for 1 year or standard outpatient care, was used. Subjects had all received inpatient treatment for 6 weeks in a rural alcohol treatment unit. Subjects were traced and assessed in the community 5 years after the index admission. The participants consisted of 127 white male alcoholics. All were first admissions, who had been selected for inpatient treatment and who completed a 6-week inpatient stay. Seventy-three subjects received intensive aftercare by CPN for 1 year, 54 subjects received standard outpatient appointments not due to random allocation but because no CPN was available. Data were collected by semi-structured interview at entry to the trial, namely background epidemiological information, details of drinking history, previous hospital admission, educational, employment and criminal information. At 5-year follow-up, data on drinking status, use of other drugs, hospital admissions, criminal behaviour and gambling, attendance at self-help groups, relationships and employment were collected. Thirty-six per cent of the CPN aftercare group was completely abstinent during the 5 years after treatment compared to 6% of the standard aftercare group (p < 0.001). Subjects receiving CPN aftercare were less likely to report blackouts (p < 0.05) or gambling (p < 0.05). They were more likely to attend hospital meetings (p < 0.0001). CPN aftercare is an effective way of maximizing the effects of inpatient treatment. The effects endured for 5 years after treatment.

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