Reducing the risk of alcohol-exposed pregnancies: a study of a motivational intervention in community settings

Pediatrics. 2003 May;111(5 Pt 2):1131-5.


Objectives: To test the feasibility and impact of a motivational intervention in reducing drinking and/or increasing effective contraception in women who are at risk for an alcohol-exposed pregnancy.

Methods: A multisite single-arm pilot study was conducted in 6 community settings in 3 large cities. A total of 2384 women were screened for eligibility; 230 were eligible on the basis of their alcohol use and lack of contraception. Of the eligible women, 190 consented and were enrolled, and 143 (75.3%) completed the 6-month follow-up. The intervention consisted of 4 manual-guided motivational counseling sessions delivered by mental health clinicians and 1 contraceptive counseling session delivered by a family planning clinician. Outcome measures include intervention completion rates, alcohol use (frequency, quantity, and bingeing), contraceptive use and effectiveness, and risk for alcohol-exposed pregnancy.

Results: Among women who completed the 6-month follow-up, 68.5% were no longer at risk of having an alcohol-exposed pregnancy; 12.6% of women who completed the program reduced drinking only; 23.1% used effective contraception only; and 32.9% reported both. Results were consistent across the 6 diverse high-risk settings.

Conclusions: This study provides evidence that providing 4 sessions of motivational interviewing plus a contraception counseling session is feasible and strongly suggests that this intervention can decrease the risk of alcohol-exposed pregnancy in women in high-risk settings. Additional investigation in a randomized controlled trial is warranted.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking
  • Alcohol-Related Disorders / prevention & control
  • Alcoholic Intoxication / prevention & control*
  • Alcoholism / therapy*
  • Contraception Behavior*
  • Counseling / methods*
  • Female
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Motivation
  • Pilot Projects
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / prevention & control*
  • Risk