Aim: To determine the effectiveness of medical counseling for alcohol abuse, when it is provided in primary care centers.
Design: Quasi-experimental, open, multicenter before-after study.Setting. 14 primary care physician's practices (7 rural, 7 urban) in the province of Córdoba (Spain).
Participants: 306 patients of both sexes, recruited with a case-finding strategy, who consumed >=35 (men) or >=21 (women) IU per week, or who had alcohol dependence syndrome (ADS) (MALTS score O>=11). Interventions. All patients were offered brief counseling to reduce drinking, and all were followed to evaluate their status 3 months, 1 year and 2 years later.
Main measures: The response variable was self-reported alcohol consumption together with normal GGT values or confirmation of alcohol consumption by a relative. The results were subjected to intention-to-treat analysis.
Results: Of the 306 patients included in the study, 95.1% were men and 78.4% had ADS. After 2 years 38.89% (95% CI, 32.2%-44.3%) had attained their treatment goal: 23.85% were in complete abstinence, and 15.0% consumed moderate amounts of alcohol below the limit considered to indicate risk. Starting excessive consumption at less than 16 years of age (odds ratio [OR], 3.0885), living in a slum (OR, 3.2103), smoking (OR, 1.7187), and a positive CAGE test (OR, 1.9949) were associated with failure of the intervention (P<.05).
Conclusions: Counseling provided by the family doctor was highly effective under the usual conditions of general practice, both for patients with excessive alcohol consumption and for patients with con ADS.