Aims: To determine whether socio-economic status (SES) influences (i) willingness to participate in brief intervention (BI) research, (ii) attendance to receive BI once allocated, and (iii) treatment outcome.
Methods: Systematic review of published, randomised controlled trials of BI for non-dependent alcohol misuse in primary health care settings.
Results: Eighteen papers met inclusion criteria. There is evidence that once recruited, and following attendance for intervention, participants' SES does not influence treatment outcome. However, the effect of choosing to participate remains unclear, and the generalizability of results to the whole primary care population remains equivocal. Socio-economic status may influence willingness to participate in BI treatment research, and may influence attendance to receive such interventions where allocated.
Conclusion: Brief interventions should remain available to all non-dependent hazardous and harmful drinkers in primary care. However, fidelity to research design is suggested to allow for any participation effects to occur. Benefits of such an approach exist for both clinicians and patients. The characteristics of those who participate in BI trials, compared to those who do not, should be studied in detail. Socio-economic variables should be included as potentially important characteristics. The impact of BI on drinking style as well as consumption needs further attention.