roject MATCH (Matching Alcoholism Treatments to Client Heterogeneity) was a multi-site study designed to test whether different types of alcoholics respond differently to specific therapeutic approaches.
Although this large study, completed in 1996, led researchers to conclude that patient-treatment matching does not substantially improve outcomes, they were encouraged by the general effectiveness of the treatments used.
NIAAA officials said MATCH patients most likely did well overall (significant and sustained improvement in increased abstinent days and decreased drinks per drinking day) because the treatments were high quality and well-delivered.
The three MATCH approaches now being used in conjunction with pharmacological therapy in COMBINE are:
12-step facilitation therapy: Based on the principles of Alcoholics Anonymous, but is an independent treatment designed to acquaint patients with the AA philosophy and to encourage participation.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy: A therapy based on social learning theory and designed to provide skills for avoiding relapse. It provides people with skills to recognize and cope with urges to drink. It might, for instance, train people to recognize what triggers them to drink, to manage negative moods, and to change their social lives to de-emphasize drinking.
Motivational enhancement therapy: Based on motivational psychology and designed to help patients mobilize personal resources to effect change. It tries to raise a persons awareness of the effect alcohol has had on his or her life and to encourage the subject to commit to changing his or her behavior.
The treatments were selected for their distinctiveness and because each had demonstrated effectiveness, potential to reveal matching effects, and potential to be incorporated into standard alcoholism treatment programs.
Many MATCH patients in the three treatments also participated in community meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous, a mutual support fellowship, rather than a formal treatment.
The eight-year study was funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and conducted in Milwaukee conjointly by UWM and Southeastern Wisconsin Medical and Social Services, Inc./Covenant.