A randomized controlled trial of moderation-oriented cue exposure

Nick Heather, Jennifer Brodie, Simon Wale, Gerard Wilkinson, Anna Luce, Elspeth Webb, Steven McCarthy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: A randomized controlled trial was conducted to examine the effectiveness of Moderation-Oriented Cue Exposure (MOCE) in comparison to Behavioral Self-Control Training (BSCT). The main hypothesis was that MOCE would be more effective than BSCT among a sample of problem drinkers aiming at moderate drinking. A subsidiary hypothesis was that MOCE would be relatively more effective than BSCT among problem drinkers with higher levels of alcohol dependence. Method: Clients (N = 91; 75% men) were randomly allocated to either MOCE or BSCT. Treatment was delivered in weekly sessions by two trained therapists, in a nested design in which therapists switched to the alternative treatment modality approximately halfway through the trial. Follow-up was carried out 6 months following posttreatment assessment, with 85% successful contact. Results: There was no evidence for the general superiority of MOCE over BSCT. The subsidiary hypothesis was not confirmed. A subsample of clients (n = 14) showing levels of dependence at baseline above the commonly accepted cut-point for a moderation goal (Severity of Alcohol Dependence Questionnaire [SADQ] > 29) showed outcomes at least as favorable as those below the cut-point. The validity of self-reports of alcohol consumption and problems was supported by significant relationships with liver function tests (gamma-glutamyl tranferase and alanine transferase). Conclusions: These results provide no grounds for the replacement of BSCT by MOCE in routine, moderation-oriented treatment practice. Assuming they prefer it to abstinence and that it is not contra-indicated on other grounds, there seems no reason why clients showing a higher level of dependence (SADQ = 30-45) should not be offered a moderation goal. (J. Stud. Alcohol 61: 561-570, 2000)
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)561-570
JournalJournal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2000


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