‘Preventing the exacerbation of anxiety and alcohol use comorbidity through cognitive re-training.’
University of Sydney, NSW
“Through speaking to people with lived experience, I quickly learnt that people with comorbid disorders get stuck on a “co-morbidity roundabout”, where they are referred on from one specialist service to the next because of their dual-disorder presentation.”
Dr Prior is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Prevention and Early Intervention in Mental Illness and Substance Use Centre of Research Excellence (PREMISE), at the University of Sydney. Her research focuses on the co-occurrence of mental health and substance use disorders. She has helped design and coordinate two clinical trials of novel interventions for these comorbid disorders; most recently an online early intervention for young people who drink to cope with anxiety.
It is Katrina’s aspiration to become a leading researcher in the development, evaluation and dissemination of innovative prevention and early intervention programs for co-occurring anxiety and alcohol use problems.
Anxiety and alcohol use disorders are two highly prevalent and debilitating conditions that commonly co-occur. Both disorders have underlying cognitive biases (i.e., unconscious, maladaptive ways of thinking) that maintain and worsen their respective symptoms. To prevent these co-occurring conditions from becoming chronic and entrenched in adulthood, it is crucial that early interventions consider and address the role of cognitive biases.
The aim of this project is to develop and evaluate the feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary efficacy of a comorbidity-focused cognitive re-training program as an adjunct to standard care for young Australians with co-occurring anxiety and problematic alcohol use.
The project will be conducted in three phases:
- Phase 1 will involve consultations with youth service providers to identify factors that might facilitate or impede implementation of the cognitive re-training program.
- Phase 2 will involve consultations with young people with anxiety and problematic alcohol use to develop a 6-session comorbidity-focussed cognitive re-training program that is age and culturally relevant.
- Phase 3 will involve a pilot trial of the cognitive re-training program. Sixty young people with anxiety and problematic alcohol use will be randomly allocated into the intervention group (cognitive re-training+standard care at youth services) or control group (standard care). The intervention group will complete 6 cognitive re-training sessions for anxiety and alcohol use over 8 weeks. Feasibility and acceptability of the intervention will be assessed. Efficacy of the program in reducing alcohol consumption (use, dependence and related-harms) and anxiety symptoms will be measured post-intervention and 6-months post-baseline.
Co-Investigators: Dr Lexine Stapinski, A/Professor Nicola Newton & Professor Reinout Wiers