Dissemination of a computer-based psychological treatment in a Drug and Alcohol Clinical Service: An observational study

Journal reference


Kay-Lambkin, F.J., Simpson, A., Bowman, J., & Childs, S.  (2014). Dissemination of a computer-based psychological treatment in a Drug and Alcohol Clinical Service: An observational study. Addiction Science and Clinical Practice, Aug 9;9:15 DOI:10.1186/1940-0640-9-15


Background: There is emerging evidence for the potential of computer-based psychological treatments (CBPT) as an add-on to usual clinical practice in the management of health problems.

Objective: The study set out to observe if, when, and how clinicians working in a publically funded alcohol/other drug (AOD) clinical service might utilize SHADE (S elf-H elp for A lcohol and other drug use and DE pression), a CBPT program for comorbid depression and alcohol or cannabis use, in their clinical practice.
Methods: Thirteen clinicians working within an AOD service on the Central Coast of New South Wales, Australia, were recruited. At baseline, all 13 clinicians were assessed for their computer anxiety and openness to innovation. Clinicians referred current clients to the study, with consenting and eligible clients (N?=?35) completing a baseline and 15-week follow-up clinical assessment. The assessment comprised a range of mental health and AOD measures administered by an independent research assistant. Over the course of the study, clinicians submitted session checklists detailing information about session content, including the context and extent to which SHADE was used for each client.

Results: Descriptive statistics showed that clinicians employed the SHADE program in a variety of ways. When SHADE modules were used, they were generally introduced in the early phase of treatment, on average, around session 4 (M?=?3.77, SD?=?5.26, range 1–36). However, only 12 of the 35 clients whose session checklists were available were exposed to the SHADE modules; this, despite 28/35 clients indicating that they would be willing to use CBPT during their current treatment program.

Conclusions: Treatment seekers in the AOD service of the current trial were generally open to receiving CBPT like SHADE; however, clinicians tended to use SHADE with only 34 percent of clients. This indicates the importance of providing ongoing support and encouragement to clinicians, in addition to an initial training session, to encourage the adoption of innovative technologies into clinical practice, and perhaps to engage clients in a discussion about CBPT more routinely.


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