Objective: Alcohol biomarkers are being developed to improve a physician's ability to identify and intervene with patients with chronic medical problems adversely affected by heavy alcohol use. This article reports the findings of a brief intervention trial which included feedback to patients of their carbohydrate-deficient transferrin (CDT) test results.
Method: A pilot study was conducted to test the efficacy of brief clinician advice to reduce alcohol use and improve health status in a sample of 151 patients being treated for Type 2 diabetes and hypertension. The intervention included informing patients of their CDT levels. The patients were randomized to a usual care or brief intervention group.
Results: There were no significant differences at baseline between the two groups in alcohol use, CDT levels, addiction rates, age, gender, socioeconomic status or health status measures. Following brief intervention, significant differences were observed in the intervention group in alcohol use and CDT: The proportion of heavy drinkers at the 12-month follow-up compared with baseline decreased from 35.8% to 24.7% in the intervention group, with no change in the control group (p < .044). CDT levels decreased as well from 2.79% to 2.41% (16% change) in the control group and 3.05% to 2.35% (28% change) in the intervention group, with significantly more intervention-group patients reducing their CDT level by at least 25% (p < .006).
Conclusions: The study provides new information suggesting brief intervention, combined with feedback on CDT levels, can reduce alcohol use and %CDT in a sample of primary care patients being treated for Type 2 diabetes and hypertension.