Background: Despite the accumulated evidence on the efficacy of brief interventions in hazardous drinkers some ambiguity remains regarding their differential effectiveness by gender.
Methods: Meta-analysis of independent studies conducted in primary health care settings with a follow-up of 6-12 months which report results separately by gender. Two outcome measures were selected: the quantity of typical weekly alcohol consumption and the frequency of drinkers who reported consumption below hazardous levels after the intervention.
Results: Seven studies were included in the meta-analysis. The standardized effect sizes for the reduction of alcohol consumption were similar in men (d=- 0.25; 95% CI=- 0.34 to -0.17) and women (d=- 0.26; 95% CI=- 0.38 to - 0.13). The odds ratios (OR) for the frequency of individuals who drank below harmful levels were also similar (four studies; OR for men=2.32; 95% CI=1.78-2.93; OR for women=2.31; 95% CI=1.60-3.17). The difference between genders was negligible.
Conclusion: Our results support the equality of outcomes among men and women achieved by brief interventions for hazardous alcohol consumption in primary care settings.