Stephen Magura – Director, The Evaluation Center, WMU
Evaluation Center: December 4, 2007
There is a considerable research literature that apparently shows relations between Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) participation and less drinking or abstinence. The studies are almost universally correlational in nature, however, including those with longitudinal data. Randomized controlled trials of mutual aid are rare and extremely difficult. This literature is known to be susceptible to two main kinds of artifacts. One is selection bias, e.g. where different types of people choose to participate or not participate in AA. The second artifact is endogeneity or “reverse causation,” i.e., the possibility that reducing or stopping drinking leads to increased or sustained AA participation. It would be important to control for these possible biases to determine the “true” magnitude of effect and causal direction in the relation between AA participation and drinking behavior. To address these issues, the presentation will outline a plan to conduct a secondary analysis of AA participation and drinking behavior in a large national alcoholism treatment database-Project MATCH. Three statistical techniques – propensity score matching, instrumental variable analysis and structural equation modeling with cross-lagged panel – that are designed to control for possible selection and endogeneity biases in correlational data will be discussed in relation to Project MATCH.
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