A Tailored Virtual Program for Alcohol Use Disorder Treatment Among Liver Transplant Candidates and Recipients Is Feasible and Associated With Lower Post-Transplant Relapse

Arpita Goswami, Ethan Weinberg, Lynda Coraluzzi, Therese Bittermann, Jonathan Nahas, Senayish Addis, Robert Weinrieb, Marina Serper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Alcohol-associated liver disease (ALD) is a leading indication for liver transplant (LT) in the United States. Rates of early liver transplant (ELT) with less than 6 months of sobriety have increased substantially. Patients who receive ELT commonly have alcohol-associated hepatitis (AH) and are often too ill to complete an intensive outpatient program (IOP) for alcohol use disorder (AUD) prior to LT. ELT recipients feel alienated from traditional IOPs. Methods: We implemented Total Recovery-LT, a tailored virtual outpatient IOP specific for patients under evaluation or waitlisted for LT who were too ill to attend community-based alcohol treatment programs. The 12-week program consisted of weekly group and individual counseling delivered by a master's level Certified Addiction Counselor trained in the basics of LT. Treatment consisted of 12-Step Facilitation, Motivational Interviewing, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. We report on program design, implementation, feasibility and early outcomes. Results: From March 2021 to September 2022, 42 patients (36% female, 23 in LT evaluation, 19 post-transplant) enrolled across five cohorts with 76% (32/42) completing the program. Alcohol relapse was more common among noncompleters versus those who completed the program (8/10, 80% vs. 7/32, 22%, p = 0.002). History of trauma or post-traumatic stress symptoms were associated with lower likelihood of completion. Patients’ desire for continued engagement after completion led to the creation of a monthly alumni group. Conclusions: Our integrated IOP model for patients with high-risk AUD in LT evaluation or post-transplant is well-received by patients and could be considered a model for LT programs.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere15381
JournalClinical Transplantation
Volume38
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2024
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • alcohol-associated hepatitis
  • integrated care
  • intensive outpatient program
  • telehealth

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