Week 5: An e-Health solution for people with alcohol problems

In this final blog post I decided to study the efficacy of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) based interventions in the prevention of relapse among alcohol abused people. I wanted to find out if computers and mobiles are considerable options to prevent relapse. In this text I refer to Gustafson et al:s article “An e-Health solution for people with alcohol problems” 2011.

I am interested in how addictive behaviors are treated in patients’ homes. In my eyes addictive behaviors are a tabu in the society and therefore I believe that ICT-solutions can be a good option in addition to face-to-face- methods.

Gustafson et al. (pg. 328) refers to Cunningham et al:s (1999) research that demonstrated that computer-based interventions increases people’s acknowledgement of drug use comapared to face-to-face interviews. Computer-based solutions also reduce problem drinking (Murray et al. 2007, see Gustafson et al. gpg. 328).

Gustafson et al. (pg. 328) states that smartphones have not been a part of the treatment for so long and that results from studies about the use of smartphones in the treatment are not yet widely available. Some results however demonstartes positive results; Over 93% of alcohol-dependent people responded to calls and the comliance can be high (Searles et al. 2002, see Gustafson et al. pg 329).

There is an umbrella name for computer-based e-health systems; CHESS. The programs included in this center are designed to meet different target groups. The progrmas are available in smartphones, usually in both audio and text formats. A smartphone-based system for the prevention of relapse is called A-CHESS. This system focuses on three important constructs in the self-determination theory; coping competence, social support, autonomous motivation. The program encourages patients to work for the goals and adhere to the program. It also offers a GPS services and the possibility to locate the patient. The locationing is to initiate rescue services if a patient is around any places that can pose a risk for relapse.  (Gustafson et al. pg 329) This sounds to me a bit like getting too much into a patient’s privacy, but on the other hand, if the patient is highly motivated to the treatment, then I suppose this could work. I think that A-CHESS recognizes the autonomy of a patient. It is possible for the patients to select resources that they need at the moment and the system communicates information respectfully.

There are still  a lot to do to improve the ICT-based interventions. It is important to remember that the use of smartphones in health care is fairly unevaluated and thus might pose some complications that we aren’t fully aware of yet. (Gustafson pg. 334)




David H. Gustafson, Ph.D.; Michael G. Boyle, M.A.; Bret R. Shaw, Ph.D.; Andrew Isham, M.S.; Fiona McTavish, M.S.; Stephanie Richards; Christopher Schubert; Michael Levy, Ph.D.; and Kim Johnson, M.S. 2011, An e-Health solution for people with alcohol problems. Alcohol Research & Health. Vol. 33 Issue 4, p327-337. 9p. 1 Chart.