Health care utilization by older alcohol-using veterans: effects of a brief intervention to reduce at-risk drinking

Health Educ Behav. 2003 Jun;30(3):305-21. doi: 10.1177/1090198103030003006.


The objective of the study was to estimate the effect of a brief alcohol-reduction intervention on health care use. Male veterans aged 55 years and older drinking more than guideline limits participated in an effective primary care-based randomized clinical trial to reduce drinking. Repeated measures ANCOVA assessed short-term and long-term changes in both inpatient and outpatient utilization. Stage of change (SOC) was assessed in a subsample to test for interaction between SOC and the intervention. Veterans exposed to the intervention used more outpatient medical services in the short term. Long-term effects on inpatient/outpatient use were not observed. SOC did not moderate the effect of the intervention but was associated with differential use of health care services. A cost-effective brief intervention to reduce drinking may spur increased efforts to seek health care. Early detection and management of alcohol-related or other illnesses might be expected to accrue savings in later years.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects
  • Alcohol Drinking / prevention & control*
  • Alcohol-Related Disorders / prevention & control*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Hospitals, Veterans / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Outpatient Clinics, Hospital / statistics & numerical data
  • Primary Health Care / methods
  • Primary Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Self Efficacy
  • Veterans / statistics & numerical data*