Economic evaluation of alcohol treatment services

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


The objective of this paper is to summarize and critically review the most recent literature on economic evaluation of alcohol treatment services, identify information gaps, and suggest a research agenda for the future. The focus of the review is research published after 1995, although some of the earlier economic studies are also included. Research findings in the literature provide evidence for the following. First, for many alcoholics, day hospital treatment or even less intensive outpatient services are cost-effective alternatives to inpatient treatment. Second, alcoholism treatment often results in declining health care costs for alcoholics who are covered by private health insurance. Third, though the use of alcoholics anonymous (AA) as an alternative to more structured alcohol treatment services may be cost-effective, substance abuse outcomes from AA are sometimes less favorable and the risk of relapse is higher. Fourth, methods have recently been developed to estimate the dollar value of alcohol treatment outcomes such as avoided absenteeism, increased productivity, improved health, and avoided crime. Based on these findings and developments, new treatment approaches and changes in service delivery systems require a fresh perspective on the costs and benefits of alternative treatment services. The findings from economic evaluation studies must be reported in clear and nontechnical terms to an audience of clinicians and politicians so that they can be used in the process of decision making.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)27-39
Number of pages13
JournalEvaluation and Program Planning
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Social Psychology
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Strategy and Management
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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