The half-life of the 'teachable moment' for alcohol misusing patients in the emergency department

Drug Alcohol Depend. 2005 Feb 14;77(2):205-8. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2004.07.011.


Background: To determine whether the length of time between alcohol-related attendance in the emergency department (ED) and follow-up appointment with an alcohol health worker (AHW) alters attendance rate at the AHW clinic.

Methods: We examined paper and computerized records made by AHWs over a 4-year period, collecting data on the length of time between identification of alcohol misuse and the appointment with the AHW, and whether the appointment was kept.

Results: There is an inverse relationship between the length of time between identification of alcohol misuse and AHW appointment and the subsequent likelihood of keeping that appointment.

Conclusions: To maximise attendance rates at AHW clinics, the delay between the identification and intervention for alcohol misusing patients must be kept to a minimum, preferably giving an appointment on the same day as the attendance in the ED.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alcoholism / prevention & control
  • Alcoholism / psychology
  • Alcoholism / therapy*
  • Emergency Medical Services / methods*
  • Emergency Medical Services / statistics & numerical data
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Patient Education as Topic / methods*
  • Patient Education as Topic / statistics & numerical data
  • Time Factors