Aims: This study aimed at testing the effectiveness of a brief motivational intervention (BI) compared with a minimal intervention (MI) for reducing alcohol consumption in adult, alcohol-positive traffic casualties.
Methods: Patients were recruited at the emergency room of a trauma hospital and screened for alcohol by a qualitative saliva test (positive from a blood alcohol concentration of 0.02 g/l). Positive patients (13.3%) who accepted entering the study were randomly allocated into BI and MI. Baseline assessment was the same for all patients. Blind telephone follow-ups were performed at months 3, 6, and 12, and results were analysed by protocol and by intention-to-treat analysis.
Results: After 1 year of follow-up, 67% of the patients had reduced their consumption, the percentage of heavy drinkers had dropped by 47%, and 62% of baseline AUDIT-C positive patients (hazardous drinkers) had become negative. Binge drinking dropped significantly (P < 0.05). Results at month 12 were in line with the previous ones.
Conclusions: The effectiveness of BI compared with MI has not been verified, but a significant reduction in consumption has been observed in the whole sample, without significant differences by type of intervention. The persistence and dimension of changes suggest a real effect of both interventions, although the lack of a pure control group does not allow definitive conclusions. Traffic casualties are in a teachable moments to benefit from easy and cheap interventions.