App use leads to more treatment, better outcomes

A secondary data analysis of a study of individuals with alcohol use disorder (AOD) discharged from residential treatment examined whether patients with access to a recovery support smartphone app would be more inclined to seek outpatient treatment and the effect that therapy would have on other measures of recovery success. The analysis found that those provided with CHESS Health’s Connections smartphone app were more likely to seek outpatient treatment after discharge from residential treatment, which appeared to directly connect to a significant reduction in risky drinking days. The app is part of CHESS Health’s eRecovery solution.

The analysis reviewed a randomized controlled trial of 349 adults that interviewed participants at three points — 4, 8, and 12 months — following resident treatment to assess the number of risky drinking days (defined as exceeding four standard drinks in two hours for men and exceeding three standard drinks in two hours for women) in the past month, abstinence in the past month, and post-discharge treatment service utilization. When compared to the control group without the app, results revealed patients using the app were more likely to seek and receive outpatient treatment, which researchers said led to an 11% decrease in risky drinking days for this group.

According to researchers, engagement in outpatient treatment did not impact the abstinence rate, defined as consuming zero drinks in the past 30 days. Those using the app did abstain from using alcohol more frequently than those without the app, but the addition of outpatient treatment was determined to be insignificant to this result. 

Researchers noted that the 24/7 nature of the app, designed to be available anytime and anywhere, increased the opportunity for participants to quickly access encouragement and support to enter treatment at critical moments. It provided a source of continuous support with tools to enhance relapse-prevention skills, promote social relatedness by connecting patients to sources of social support, and encourage autonomy in managing an individual’s recovery. 

In summarizing their results, researchers encouraged more study around this topic, as they did not study which specific aspects or features of the app led to the increased use of post-discharge outpatient treatment. The analysis was published in March 2017 in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment

*In the associated research paper, A-CHESS references the original product name for what is now called the Connections app, which is part of CHESS Health’s eRecovery solution

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