Perceived helpfulness of treatment for alcohol use disorders: Findings from the World Mental Health Surveys

Louisa Degenhardt, Chrianna Bharat, Wai Tat Chiu, Meredith G. Harris, Alan E. Kazdin, Daniel V. Vigo, Nancy A. Sampson, Jordi Alonso, Laura Helena Andrade, Ronny Bruffaerts, Brendan Bunting, Graça Cardoso, Giovanni de Girolamo, Silvia Florescu, Oye Gureje, Josep Maria Haro, Chiyi Hu, Aimee N. Karam, Elie G. Karam, Viviane Kovess-MasfetySing Lee, Victor Makanjuola, John J. McGrath, Maria Elena Medina-Mora, Jacek Moskalewicz, Fernando Navarro-Mateu, José Posada-Villa, Charlene Rapsey, Juan Carlos Stagnaro, Hisateru Tachimori, Margreet ten Have, Yolanda Torres, David R. Williams, Zahari Zarkov, Ronald C. Kessler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aim: We examined prevalence and factors associated with receiving perceived helpful AUD treatment, and persistence in help-seeking after earlier unhelpful treatment.
Methods: Data came from 27 community epidemiologic surveys of adults in 24 countries using the World Health Organization World Mental Health surveys (n=93,843). Participants with a lifetime history of treated AUD were asked if they ever received helpful AUD treatment, and how many professionals they had talked to up to and including the first time they received helpful treatment (or how many ever, if they had not received helpful treatment).
Results: 11.8% of respondents with lifetime AUD reported ever obtaining treatment (n=9,378); of these, 44% reported that treatment was helpful. The probability of obtaining helpful treatment from the first professional seen was 21.8%; the conditional probability of subsequent professionals being helpful after earlier unhelpful treatment tended to decrease as more professionals were seen. The cumulative probability of receiving helpful treatment at least once increased from 21.8% after the first professional to 79.7% after the seventh professional seen, following earlier unhelpful treatment. However, the cumulative probability of persisting with up to seven professionals in the face of prior treatments being unhelpful was only 13.2%.
Conclusion: Fewer than half of people with AUDs who sought treatment found treatment helpful; the most important factor was persistence in seeking further treatment if a previous professional had not helped. Future research should examine how to increase the likelihood that AUD treatment is found to be helpful on any given contact.
Original languageEnglish
Article number109158
JournalDrug and Alcohol Dependence
Issue numberPart B
Early online date1 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2021


  • alcohol use disorder
  • treatment
  • epidemiology


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