Do health educator telephone calls reduce at-risk drinking among older adults in primary care?

J Gen Intern Med. 2010 Apr;25(4):334-9. doi: 10.1007/s11606-009-1223-2. Epub 2010 Jan 26.


Background: Alcohol screening and brief intervention for unhealthy alcohol use has not been consistently delivered in primary care as part of preventive healthcare.

Objective: To explore whether telephone-based intervention delivered by a health educator is efficacious in reducing at-risk drinking among older adults in primary care settings.

Design: Secondary analyses of data from a randomized controlled trial.

Participants: Subjects randomized to the intervention arm of the trial (n = 310).

Interventions: Personalized risk reports, advice from physicians, booklet about alcohol and aging, and up to three telephone calls from a health educator. All interventions were completed before the three-month follow-up.

Measurements: Risk outcomes (at-risk or not at-risk) at 3 and 12 months after enrollment.

Main results: In univariate analyses, compared to those who remained at risk, those who achieved not at-risk outcome at 3 months were more likely to be women, Hispanic or non-white, have lower levels of education, consume less alcohol, drink less frequently, and have lower baseline number of risks. In mixed-effects logistic regression models, completing all three health educator calls increased the odds of achieving not at-risk outcome compared to not completing any calls at 3 months (OR 5.31; 95% CI 1.92-14.7; p = 0.001), but not at 12 months (OR 2.01; 95% CI 0.71-5.67; p = 0.18).

Conclusions: Telephone-based intervention delivered by a health educator was moderately efficacious in reducing at-risk drinking at 3 months after enrollment among older adults receiving a multi-faceted intervention in primary care settings; however, the effect was not sustained at 12 months.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Alcoholism / epidemiology
  • Alcoholism / prevention & control*
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Directive Counseling*
  • Female
  • Health Education*
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Odds Ratio
  • Patient Education as Topic*
  • Primary Health Care*
  • Risk Factors
  • Risk-Taking
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Telephone*
  • United States / epidemiology