E-therapy for problem drinking: Results of a randomized controlled trial

First published: 10 May 2019 | Last updated: 20 May 2019


To evaluate the efficacy of a 3-month e-therapy programme with active therapeutic involvement for problem drinkers (www.alcoholdebaas.nl)

Design and setting

In this Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT), problem drinkers were randomly assigned to the e-therapy group (www.alcoholdebaas.nl) or the control group (biweekly email messages).


Dutch-speaking problem drinkers (n=156)


The e-therapy programme is a structured treatment programme consisting of two phases in which patient and therapist communicate asynchronously (i.e. not real time), via the Internet only. The method is based on cognitive behavioural therapy and motivational interviewing. The programme helps problem drinkers to make positive changes in relation to their alcohol consumption.


Self-report questionnaires at baseline, post treatment, and follow-up (3 and 6 months): a 7-day retrospective drinking diary, CIDI-SAM, GHQ-28, MAP-HSS, EuroQol-5D, DASS, RCQ-D, HAQ.

Findings and Conclusions

The first RCT results will be available in September 2009.

Pilot results already showed that the e-therapy programme reaches a new population of problem drinkers: more women, better educated people, and employed people1. At post-test, participants showed a significant reduction in alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harm2. Patient’s satisfaction with the e-therapy programme was high.

The e-therapy programme proved to be feasible and attracted patients who were otherwise unlikely to seek help. The RCT results will provide more information about effectiveness, reasons for drop-out, and the population that benefits most from the e-therapy programme.

Based on the successful Dutch e-therapy programme, www.alcoholdebaas.nl; the English programme, www.lookatyourdrinking.com will be launched in September 2009.


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Ms Marloes Postel