A randomised controlled trial of the Flinders Program™ of chronic condition management in Vietnam veterans with comorbid alcohol misuse, and psychiatric and medical conditions

Battersby, M. W., Beattie, J., Pols, R. G., Smith, D. P., Condon, J., & Blunden, S. (2013). A randomised controlled trial of the Flinders Program™ of chronic condition management in Vietnam veterans with co-morbid alcohol misuse, and psychiatric and medical conditions. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 47, 451-462.


Objective: To evaluate the efficacy of the Flinders Program™ of chronic condition management on alcohol use, psychosocial wellbeing and quality of life in Vietnam veterans with alcohol misuse.

Method: This 9-month wait-list randomised controlled trial used the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) score ≥ 8 as the entry criterion. Intervention veterans received the Flinders Program plus usual care and controls received usual care. The primary outcome measure was AUDIT score at baseline, 3, 6 and 9 months. Secondary measures included quality of life, alcohol dependence (DSM-IV), anxiety and depression. All measures were repeated at variable trial end dates between 9 and 18 months in the intervention group.

Results: Randomisation resulted in 46 intervention and 31 control participants. Intent-to-treat analyses showed AUDIT scores improved significantly from baseline to 9-month follow-up (p = 0.039) in the intervention group compared to control group. The control group had 1.46 times the risk of alcohol dependence than the intervention group at 9 months (p = 0.027). There were no significant differences between groups for secondary measures. Within-group analyses showed that both groups significantly improved in AUDIT (p < 0.001), anxiety and depression (p < 0.01), anger (p < 0.001), and posttraumatic stress (p < 0.01). Improvements in AUDIT (p < 0.001) and alcohol dependence were maintained in the intervention group to 18 months.

Conclusions: Use of the Flinders Program in addition to usual care resulted in reduced alcohol use, reduced alcohol dependence, and global clinical improvement in Vietnam veterans with risky alcohol behaviours and chronic mental health problems. The findings demonstrate that the Flinders Program provides a structured framework for delivering self-management support, case management and coordinated care for people with chronic conditions. This clinical approach has the potential to bridge the gap between physical and mental illness service delivery for people with long-term conditions in Australia.

DOI/Australian-New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry