Psychotherapy for Alcohol Use Disorder Is Associated With Reduced Risk of Incident Alcohol-Associated Liver Disease

Augustin G.L. Vannier, Eric M. Przybyszewski, Jessica Shay, Suraj J. Patel, Esperance Schaefer, Russell P. Goodman, Jay Luther

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background & Aims: Alcohol-associated liver disease (ALD) is a devastating complication of alcohol use disorder (AUD). Once it develops, ALD is exceedingly difficult to treat; it therefore is critical to identify ways to prevent ALD. By treating the causes of increased alcohol consumption, psychotherapy may offer prophylactic benefit against the development of ALD for patients with AUD. Methods: In this retrospective cohort study, we used International Classification of Diseases, 9th and 10th revision, codes to identify 9635 patients with AUD in the Mass General Brigham Biobank. The mean follow-up period from AUD diagnosis was 9.2 years. We used Cox regression models to generate hazard ratios (HR) for the development of ALD given the receipt or nonreceipt of psychotherapy, adjusting for a range of other contributors including the receipt of medication-assisted treatment. Results: In our cohort, 60.4% of patients were men, 83.5% of patients were white, the median age was 57.0 years, and 3544 patients (36.8%) received psychotherapy. ALD developed in 1135 patients (11.8%). In multivariable analysis, psychotherapy was associated with a reduced rate of ALD (HR, 0.59; 95% CI, 0.50–0.71; P <.001). This association held for both individual psychotherapy (HR, 0.70; 95% CI, 0.56–0.86; P <.001) and group psychotherapy (HR, 0.76; 95% CI, 0.61–0.94; P =.01). Among patients with cirrhosis, psychotherapy was associated with a lower rate of hepatic decompensation (HR, 0.68; 95% CI, 0.48–0.95; P =.03). Conclusions: The receipt of psychotherapy in the setting of AUD is associated with reduced incidence and progression of ALD. Given the safety and potential benefit of psychotherapy, clinicians should consider using it to prevent the development of ALD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalClinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology
StateAccepted/In press - 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Addiction Medicine
  • Behavioral Therapy
  • Cirrhosis
  • Psychosocial Therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology


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