Efficacy of physician-delivered brief counseling intervention for binge drinkers

Am J Med. 2010 Jan;123(1):72-8. doi: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2009.08.012.


Background: Binge drinking is a common pattern of alcohol use in the US. However, no studies have evaluated the effectiveness of brief interventions targeting only binge drinkers.

Methods: Randomized controlled clinical trial with a 12-month follow-up period conducted from March 1, 2003 to March 1, 2006 in Spain. Of a screened population of 15,325 patients seeking routine medical care from their primary care providers, patients who met inclusion criteria were randomized into an experimental group (n=371) or a control group (n=381). The primary outcome measures were the frequency of binge drinking episodes and weekly alcohol intake.

Results: There were no significant differences at baseline between groups in alcohol use and demographic variables. At the end of the 12-month follow-up period, there were significant reductions in binge-drinking status (52.2% vs 67.2%, P <.001), number of episodes of binge drinking (1.14 vs 1.56, P <.001), number of drinks weekly (19.2 vs 22.4, P <.001), and frequency of excessive alcohol intake in 7 days (47.9% vs 66.6%, P >.001).

Conclusions: This study provided evidence that screening and brief counseling delivered by a primary care physician as part of regular health care significantly reduced binge drinking episodes in binge drinkers.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology
  • Alcohol Drinking / prevention & control
  • Alcoholic Intoxication / epidemiology
  • Alcoholic Intoxication / prevention & control*
  • Counseling / methods*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Education as Topic / methods*
  • Physician's Role*
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Physicians, Family
  • Probability
  • Risk Assessment
  • Sex Factors
  • Spain
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome