Alcohol treatment research assessment exposure: A critical review of the literature

Patrick R. Clifford, Christine M. Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Alcohol treatment researchers have speculated about the benefits of research participation (e.g., research follow-up interviews functioning as aftercare) for more than 4 decades (Gallen, 1974). Alternatively, research participation can decrease study design sensitivity and hamper the interpretability of research findings. To the extent that the typical alcohol treatment trial is characterized by frequent and comprehensive data collection, accounting for potential research assessment-related effects is essential for proper interpretation of study findings. Given this background, the purpose of this article is to review the alcohol treatment research literature on assessment exposure resulting in subject reactivity. In addition, interventions that use data collection activities to inform clinical practice are receiving increased attention, and such interventions share common characteristics with research assessment-related clinical improvements. Therefore, a second purpose of this article is to compare and contrast these 2 influences of behavior change. Study findings indicate that during and posttreatment data collection activities (i.e., both research and clinical data) positively influence clinical outcomes, although there appears to be important differences in regard to the mechanisms by which these 2 data collection activities exert their influence. Understanding of mechanisms of behavior change, effect boundaries, and the conditions under which clinical improvement is most likely to occur is only at a rudimentary level.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)773-781
Number of pages9
JournalPsychology of Addictive Behaviors
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


  • alcohol
  • assessment reactivity
  • mechanisms of change
  • treatment outcomes research


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