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Drug and Alcohol Dependence 91 (2007) 97101

Short communication

Enhancing brief cognitive-behavioral therapy with motivational

enhancement techniques in cocaine users
Sherry A. McKee , Kathleen M. Carroll, Rajita Sinha, Jane E. Robinson,
Charla Nich, Dana Cavallo, Stephanie OMalley
Yale University School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, New Haven, CT 06519, USA
Received 2 October 2006; received in revised form 26 April 2007; accepted 5 May 2007

Background: We investigated the impact of enhancing brief cognitive-behavioral therapy with motivational interviewing techniques for cocaine
abuse or dependence, using a focused intervention paradigm.
Methods: Participants (n = 74) who met current criteria for cocaine abuse or dependence were randomized to three-session cognitive-behavioral
therapy (CBT) or three-session enhanced CBT (MET + CBT), which included an initial session of motivational enhancement therapy (MET).
Outcome measures included treatment retention, process measures (e.g., commitment to abstinence, satisfaction with treatment), and cocaine use.
Results: Participants who received the MET + CBT intervention attended more drug treatment sessions following the study interventions, reported
significantly greater desire for abstinence and expectation of success, and they expected greater difficulty in maintaining abstinence compared to
the CBT condition. There were no differences across treatment conditions on cocaine use.
Conclusions: These findings offer mixed support for the addition of MET as an adjunctive approach to CBT for cocaine users. In addition, the study
provides evidence for the feasibility of using short-term studies to test the effects of specific treatment components or refinements on measures of
therapy process and outcome.
2007 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.

Keywords: Cognitive-behavioral therapy; Motivational enhancement therapy; Cocaine

1. Introduction enhancement therapy (Miller and Rollnick, 2002). MET has

demonstrated efficacy comparable to other standard substance
The effectiveness of CBT for improving treatment outcomes abuse treatments (Burke et al., 2003; Project MATCH Research
among cocaine-using populations has been documented (Carroll Group, 1998; Stephens et al., 2000) and has been conceptualized
et al., 2000, 2004; Rawson et al., 2002; Rohsenow et al., 2000). as an adjunctive or preparatory treatment, particularly for more
Although CBTs effects are comparatively durable, a relative severe drug use disorders (Miller et al., 2003; Rohsenow et al.,
weakness of CBT is that its effects on early retention are mixed 2004).
and it does not strongly address the individuals motivation and An emerging treatment strategy is to combine empirically
engagement, aspects more specifically targeted in motivational supported therapies (or their components) to address their rel-
ative strengths and weaknesses. Although some studies have
found support for the effectiveness of CBTMET combina-
tions (MTP Research Group, 2004), few empirical evaluations
Funding for this study was provided by National Institute on Health grants
P50DA09241, K02AA00171, K05DA00457, and K05AA014715; the NIH had have examined whether standard approaches such as CBT are
no further role in the study design, in the collection, analysis and interpretation improved by combining components from other approaches
of data; in the writing of the report or in the decision to submit the paper for and whether such combinations work in the manner hypoth-
publication. esized (Kazdin, 1986, 2004; Kazdin and Nock, 2003). The
Corresponding author at: Yale University School of Medicine, Substance
standard evaluative strategy is to conduct full-scale randomized
Abuse Center-CMHC, 34 Park Street, S-211 New Haven, CT 06519, USA.
Tel.: +1 203 974 7598; fax: +1 203 974 7606. clinical trials (Jacobson et al., 1996), which is costly and time-
E-mail address: (S.A. McKee). consuming. An alternate, and potentially more efficient strategy

0376-8716/$ see front matter 2007 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.
98 S.A. McKee et al. / Drug and Alcohol Dependence 91 (2007) 97101

is to conduct smaller highly focused trials evaluating the effect

of specific components on treatment outcome (Kazdin, 1986,
2004; Kazdin and Nock, 2003).
Using a short-term intervention paradigm, participants were
randomized to two treatment entry interventions prior to stan-
dard substance abuse treatment: CBT only, and MET + CBT
to evaluate whether the addition of MET to CBT improves
treatment outcomes. Changes in treatment motivation, treatment
satisfaction, and retention were evaluated as primary outcomes,
with cocaine use a secondary outcome given the brief nature of
the protocol interventions and the anticipated effect of MET on
Fig. 1. Diagram of participant recruitment, retention, and follow-up.
process measures.

2. Methods 16), participants reported on drug and alcohol use, commitment to abstinence,
number of formal drug treatment sessions attended, and provided urine samples.
2.1. Sample
2.4. Assessments
Participants were recruited through an outpatient substance abuse clinic.
Seventy-four eligible individuals who met current criteria for cocaine abuse Diagnostic information about substance abuse disorders was obtained with
(11%) or dependence (89%) were randomly assigned to one of two treatment the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV (Spitzer et al., 1995). The Time-
conditions; MET + CBT (n = 38) or CBT (n = 36). Exclusion criteria included Line-Follow-Back Assessment Method (Sobell et al., 1980) was used to assess
current opiate abuse or dependence, a lifetime diagnosis of bipolar disorder or cocaine, alcohol, and other drug use for the 30 days prior to entering the study,
schizophrenia, current suicidal or homicidal plans and intent, or a pending legal and during the treatment and follow-up phases. Urine samples (cocaine, mar-
case. ijuana, opiates, benzodiazepines) and breath alcohol were obtained at each
Several self-report measures were administered at baseline, after each ther-
2.2. Intervention conditions apy session, and at the follow-up sessions (weeks 8, 16). The Thoughts about
Abstinence Scale (TAAS; Hall et al., 1990) assessed treatment motivation. Com-
Both brief introductory interventions were manual-guided and delivered plete abstinence goal (from all substance use) versus all other responses were
across three 60-min sessions held weekly. Participants were required to com- dichotomized. Three additional items measured desire to quit, expectation of
plete the three sessions within a 7-week timeframe. The CBT condition included success in quitting, and anticipated difficulty in remaining abstinent after quit-
sessions described in standard CBT manuals (Carroll, 1998; Kadden et al., ting. The Client Satisfaction Scale (CSQ; Larsen et al., 1979) measured general
1992; Monti et al., 1989). Session one covered the rationale for CBT and high- satisfaction with services. The Patient Therapy Session Report (PTSR; Orlinsky
risk situations for resumption of cocaine use. Session two addressed managing and Howard, 1975) measured the degree to which they felt helped and understood
cocaine-related craving, and session three addressed general problem solv- by the therapist.
ing skills. In the MET + CBT condition, session one focused on motivational
interviewing techniques; thus, the therapist sought to increase the participants 2.5. Data analysis
commitment to change by raising their awareness of personal consequences
resulting from their drug use (Miller et al., 1992). Therapists were encouraged
Baseline differences in demographic and pre-treatment variables between
to use a therapeutic stance in which they expressed empathy, avoided argumenta-
therapy conditions were assessed by t-tests and chi-square tests (n = 74).
tion, and supported self-efficacy. Following the MET session, the CBT sessions
ANOVAS were used to evaluate outcomes on the final sample of 66 individ-
covered the rationale for a cognitive-behavioral approach, high-risk situations
uals who completed at least one session of study treatment (Fig. 1). For process
for resumption of cocaine use, and coping with craving (session 2) and problem
measures and cocaine use outcomes, separate random effects regression models
solving skills (session 3). During these CBT sessions, however, therapists were
were used to evaluate treatment differences across baseline and the treatment
instructed to maintain a MET style throughout, by asking open-ended questions,
phase, and then across the follow-up timepoints. As retention outcomes were
rolling with resistance, and encouraging commitment to change.
not normally distributed, we used both survival analysis and median analysis to
Eleven clinicians (64% female) provided treatment in both therapy condi-
assess treatment differences in retention.
tions. Primarily Caucasian (9% African American), they had a range of training
(1 M.D., 2 M.S.W., seven completing Ph.D.) and all were experienced in treat-
ing substance abuse. Clinicians received didactic training and completed at least 3. Results
one training case for each treatment condition. Ongoing Ph.D.-level clinical case
supervision was provided. 3.1. Sample description

2.3. Procedures There were no significant differences in demographic char-

acteristics or pre-treatment motivation across therapy conditions
Individuals were invited to participate following their initial triage appoint-
ment. After providing written informed consent, participants completed baseline
(Table 1). Assessment of past 30-day drug use indicated greater
assessments and eligible individuals were randomized to therapy condition. frequency [F(1, 66) = 6.93, p < .05] and quantity [F(1, 66) = .51,
Therapists, participants, and staff were unaware of the therapy assignment until p < .10] of cannabis use in the CBT condition.
the patient showed for session one. At the end of each session, participants com-
pleted assessments and a urine drug screen. These assessments were collected by 3.2. Treatment retention
research staff blind to the therapy condition. At the end of session three, partic-
ipants were referred for continued substance abuse treatment at the same clinic.
Clinic staff determined treatment modality, frequency, and therapeutic approach Mean sessions completed (CBT = 2.19, S.D. = 1.14; MET +
for ongoing substance use treatment. During follow-up interviews (weeks 8, CBT = 2.39, S.D. = 1.00) and percentage of participants com-
S.A. McKee et al. / Drug and Alcohol Dependence 91 (2007) 97101 99

Table 1 pleting all three sessions (CBT = 61%, MET + CBT = 68%),
Baseline characteristics by treatment condition were comparable across conditions (p > .05). There were no
CBT (n = 36) MET + CBT (n = 38) significant effects of treatment on completion of the three ther-
Age (mean, S.D.) 34.9 (7.2) 35.0 (7.3)
apy sessions as assessed by survival or median effects. While
there was no effect of treatment on the proportions attending
Sex (n, %)
ongoing drug treatment during the 8-week follow-up period
Male 27 (75.0) 27 (71.0)
Female 9 (25.0) 11 (29.0) (MET + CBT = 65%, CBT = 60%), there was a significant effect
on the number of sessions attended [F(1, 65) = 5.40, p < .03]. Par-
Race (n, %)
White 12 (33.3) 21 (55.3)
ticipants assigned to MET + CBT attended more drug treatment
Black 19 (52.8) 17 (44.7) sessions (mean = 5.66, S.D. = 9.24) than those who received
Hispanic 5 (13.9) 0 (0.0) CBT (mean = 1.57, S.D. = 2.69).
Martial status (n, %)
Never married 18 (50.0) 21 (55.3) 3.3. Process measure
Married or cohabitating 12 (33.3) 11 (28.9)
Divorced or separated 6 (16.7) 6 (15.8) Participants reported an increase in overall treatment satis-
Education (n, %) faction over time [PTSR; z = 4.00, p < .005], with no effect of
College graduate 1 (2.8) 2 (5.3) treatment condition. No effects were demonstrated for the CSQ.
Partial college 6 (16.7) 13 (34.2) For the TAAS, there were significant treatment-by-time interac-
High school graduate 14 (38.9) 10 (26.3)
Less than high school 15 (41.7) 13 (34.2)
tions across the therapy sessions. By the end of session three,
participants receiving MET + CBT reported greater desire for
Employment status (n, %)
abstinence (z = 1.94, p < .05; mean = 9.14 versus 8.30), greater
Full-time 11 (30.6) 17 (44.7)
Part-time 3 (8.3) 5 (13.2) expectation of success (z = 2.19, p < .05; mean = 8.43 versus
Unemployed 22 (61.1) 16 (42.1) 7.30), and expected more difficulty in maintaining abstinence
Lifetime prevalence (n, %)
after quitting (z = 3.62, p < .005; mean = 7.24 versus 4.80) than
Cocaine those assigned to CBT. These effects were not sustained during
Abuse 29 (80.6) 33 (86.8) the follow-up period. No effects were found for the TAAS item
Dependence 32 (88.9) 36 (94.7) assessing treatment goal.
Abuse 8 (22.2) 12 (31.6)
Dependence 23 (63.9) 24 (63.2)
3.4. Cocaine use by therapy condition during treatment
Abuse 17 (47.2) 17 (44.7) Frequency and quantity of cocaine use decreased from base-
Dependence 9 (25) 10 (26.3) line through the treatment phase. There were no significant
Opioid treatment-by-time effects. Frequency of cocaine use decreased
Abuse 2 (5.6) 5 (13.2)
Dependence 1 (2.8) 2 (5.3)
from 1.81 (S.D. = 1.48) to 1.18 (S.D. = 1.42; z = 4.83, p < .001)
days per week and quantity of cocaine use decreased from
Total frequency past 30 days (mean, S.D.)
$102.56 (S.D. = 115.42) to $24.41 (S.D. = 53.68; z = 5.36,
Cocaine 6.5 (5.1) 7.8 (7.1)
Alcohol 8.1 (5.8) 9.4 (7.5) p < .001) per week. There was no effect of treatment condition
Cannabis 4.9 (8.1) 1.3 (2.7)** on proportions of cocaine positive urines collected after each
Cigarettes 24.9 (9.4) 22.5 (11.8) session (MET + CBT session 1 = 47%, 2 = 46%, 3 = 42%; CBT
session 1 = 53%, 2 = 52%, 3 = 50%) or follow-up appointments
CBT (n = 32) MET + CBT (n = 36)
(MET + CBT week 8 = 63%, 16 = 56%; CBT week 8 = 52%,
Total quantity past 30 days (mean, S.D.) 16 = 58%).
Cocaine ($) 301.56 (296.2) 87.09 (89.0)
Alcohol (# drinks) 54.25 (83.6) 58.73 (66.2)
4. Discussion
Cannabis (# joints) 14.02 (37.7) 2.22 (5.5)*
Cigarettes 341.34 (278.74) 376.68 (348.85)
This study examined whether enhancing CBT with MET
CBT MET + CBT would primarily increase client participation, engagement, and
(n = 36) (n = 38) commitment to abstinence, and secondarily decrease cocaine use
Thoughts about abstinence scale (mean, S.D.) during the initial phase of substance abuse treatment. While there
Desire to quit (range 110) 8.8 (1.9) 8.7 (1.8) were no differences in completion rates for the three therapy
Expectation of success (range 110) 7.5 (2.0) 7.6 (2.2) sessions, participants who received MET + CBT attended more
Ease of maintaining abstinence (range 110) 4.40 (2.4) 4.0 (2.7)
treatment sessions during the follow-up period. This finding is
Total abstinence goala (n, %) 31 (88.6) 32 (86.5)
consistent with a number of emerging studies suggesting that
Beck depression inventory (mean, S.D.) 8.6 (6.1) 7.0 (5.0) motivational enhancement, as a preparatory intervention, may
a Percent who responded I want to quit using once and for all, to be totally enhance treatment engagement (Carroll et al., 2006; Connors
abstinent, and never use ever again for the rest of my life; *p < .10; **p < .05. et al., 2002; Davis et al., 2003). With regard to the process
measures, those who received MET + CBT reported signifi-
100 S.A. McKee et al. / Drug and Alcohol Dependence 91 (2007) 97101

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Acknowledgements Miller, W.R., Rollnick, S., 2002. Motivational Interviewing: Preparing People
for Change, 2nd ed. Guilford Press, New York, NY, US.
Miller, W.R., Yahne, C.E., Tonigan, J.S., 2003. Motivational interviewing
Authors OMalley, Carroll, and Sinha designed the study.
in drug services: a randomized trial. J. Consult. Clin. Psych. 71, 754
Author Robinson was the project director and supervised study 763.
therapists. Author Cavallo coordinated the study. Authors Nich Miller, W.R., Zweben, A., DiClemente, C.C., Rychtarik, R.G., 1992. Moti-
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Monti, P.M., Abrams, D.B., Kadden, R.M., Cooney, N.L., 1989. Treating Alco-
to and approved the final manuscript.
hol Dependence: A Coping Skills Training Guide. Guilford Press, New
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