Objective: This study used a randomized controlled trial design to compare the effectiveness of four interventions at reducing alcohol consumption, consequences, and heavy episodic drinking among injured, at-risk drinkers in the emergency department (ED).
Method: Injured patients (n=4,476) completed a computerized survey; 575 at- risk drinkers were randomly assigned to one of four intervention conditions: tailored message booklet with brief advice, tailored message booklet only, generic message booklet with brief advice, and generic message booklet only. Regression models using the generalized estimating equation approach were constructed comparing the intervention conditions at baseline, 3-month follow-up, and 12-month follow-up. Gender and age were entered in models along with their interaction.
Results: Each of the intervention groups significantly decreased their alcohol consumption from baseline to 12-month follow-up; subjects in the tailored message booklet with brief advice group significantly decreased their average weekly alcohol consumption by 48.5% (p<.0001). Those in the brief advice conditions (tailored or generic) significantly decreased their average consumption during the 12 months of the study compared with the no brief advice conditions. Younger adult women (ages 19-22) who received some brief advice were the most likely to decrease their heavy episodic drinking.
Conclusions: This was the first large-scale, brief intervention trial that included development and testing of computerized, highly tailored interventions with injured drinkers in the ED. ED-based interventions for alcohol problems would benefit from computerized screening, brief advice, and booklets to positively impact risky drinking practices.