Alcohol treatment research assessment exposure subject reactivity effects: Part I. Alcohol use and related consequences

Patrick R. Clifford, Stephen A. Maisto, Christine M. Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

97 Scopus citations


Objective: There has been increasing recognition among alcohol treatment researchers that research assessment exposure subject reactivity effects can contribute to clinical outcomes, decrease study design sensitivity, and confound research findings. The present study is an experimental investigation of two of the more salient components of the research assessment interview (i.e., frequency and comprehensiveness) and their effects on clinical outcomes (Part I: Alcohol Use and Related Consequences) and treatment participation (Part II: Treatment Engagement and Involvement). Method: The study design was a 2 (Frequency of Assessment) x 2 (Comprehensiveness of Assessment) completely randomized factorial, and study participants were randomly assigned, using an urn randomization procedure, to one of the resulting four experimental research assessment exposure conditions: (1) frequent-comprehensive, (2) frequent-brief, (3) infrequent-comprehensive, and (4) infrequent-brief. Study participants were recruited from one of two hospital-based outpatient alcohol- and other substance-abuse clinics. Two hundred thirty-five subjects were randomly assigned to one of the four research assessment exposure conditions. Results: Research assessment exposure subject reactivity effects were related significantly to alcohol use and related negative consequences, such that subjects assigned to the infrequent-brief research assessment exposure condition reported the poorest outcomes. Conclusions: The research protocols used to study alcohol treatments have clinical efficacy and can alter the outcomes (e.g., alcohol use) under investigation. It is important for researchers to control/account for subject reactivity effects when conducting alcohol treatment outcome trials. Accurate interpretation of data derived from clinical trials of alcohol treatments necessitates taking research assessment exposure subject reactivity effects into consideration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)519-528
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of studies on alcohol and drugs
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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