Study objective: To determine whether an emergency department (ED)-based laptop computer intervention reduces the normative age-related increase in alcohol misuse compared with standard of care.
Methods: This was a randomized controlled trial conducted from October 11, 1999, to April 14, 2001, in a community teaching hospital and university medical center. Subjects were aged 14 to 18 years and with a minor injury. Controls and intervention participants completed a computer-based questionnaire. Intervention participants also completed a laptop-based interactive computer program to affect alcohol misuse. Main outcome measures were Alcohol Misuse Index (Amidx) and binge-drinking episodes. Follow-up occurred by telephone at 3 and 12 months. Analysis included repeated-measures analysis of variance (alpha=0.05; power 0.80; effect size 0.10).
Results: Three hundred twenty-nine participants were randomized to the intervention group, and 326 participants were randomized to the control group. Two hundred ninety-five (89.7%) intervention subjects and 285 (87.4%) control subjects completed 3- and 12-month follow-ups. For intervention and control groups, respectively, mean age was 16.0 and 15.9 years and men composed 66.8% and 66.3% of the groups; Amidx scores were 2.2 and 2.0; binge-drinking episodes were 1.2 and 1.0. Outcomes for intervention and control, respectively, were Amidx (3 months) 1.5 and 1.4; Amidx (12 months) 1.8 and 2.1; binge drinking (3 months) 0.9 and 0.8; and binge drinking (12 months) 1.4 and 1.2. Overall, there were no significant effects (effect size 0.04). No detrimental effects were noted. Subgroup analysis suggested that the intervention may have an effect among subjects with experience drinking and driving (5% of the sample).
Conclusion: The intervention was not effective in decreasing alcohol misuse among the study population. Further research will be required to determine effectiveness among the subgroup of adolescent minor injury patients who have experience drinking and driving.