ABC Training for Alcohol Use During an Abstinence Challenge (IkPas/NoThanks!): a pilot study

Wednesday, 23 November, 2022 - 10:50 to 12:20


A rather consistent small add-on effect was found in cognitive bias modification (CBM) when added to clinical treatment, no effects were found of CBM as stand-alone intervention, and the associative underpinning has been doubted. Therefore, ABC-training, a novel inferential type of cognitive training, has been proposed (Wiers et al., 2020), it integrates personally-relevant antecedents (As) with alternative behaviours (Bs), which are related to their consequences (C). This pilot study tested the effectiveness of ABC-training during an abstinent challenge (IkPas/NoThanks), and compared it with CBM and SHAM training.

In the pretest, 722 participants were randomized over three conditions, 133 participants finished the post-test (ABC: 44, CBM: 37, Sham: 52). The ABC-training participants did a virtual training task where an avatar was situated in their chosen context (A), chose between alcohol-related or alternative behaviour (B), followed by the consequence (C). The CBM (alternative behaviour = 100%) and Sham (alternative behaviour/alcohol drinking = 50%/50%) were similar but without the consequence and no free choice. The training was aligned with a 6-week abstinence challenge, once or twice a week. 2-week, 3-month and 6-month follow-ups were conducted.

Based on the pilot study, there is now an ongoing study at the data collection phase.

The preliminary results showed that participants in the ABC condition did not drink fewer units of alcohol, but they did have a higher chance to stay abstinent during the challenge compared to the CBM and SHAM conditions (χ2 (2, 133) = 7.09, p = 0.028). For the ongoing study, we expect to complete data collection in July 2022.

This would be the first study testing the effectiveness of ABC training in alcohol abstinence. The preliminary results showed a stronger positive effect on staying abstinent compared with CBM and sham training.




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