Brief alcohol intervention for college drinkers: how brief is?

Addict Behav. 2010 Jul;35(7):730-3. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2010.03.011. Epub 2010 Mar 12.


Objective: Brief interventions for college student drinkers have been shown to be effective in reducing the amount of alcohol consumed as well as the number of alcohol-related problems. However, the duration of brief interventions varies substantially across studies.

Method: In the present study 114 undergraduate students who drank alcohol heavily were randomly assigned to a 10-minute brief intervention, a 50-minute brief intervention, or assessment-only control. The content of the active interventions was based on the same concept, and both interventions incorporated motivational interviewing components. Participants were assessed at baseline and 4-week post intervention on quantity of alcohol use, alcohol-related problems, and protective behavioral strategies.

Results: As hypothesized, there was a significant difference between participants in the 10-minute intervention and control condition regarding their alcohol consumption at 4-week follow up. However, there was no significant difference between the 50-minute intervention and the control condition on alcohol consumption. There were also no significant differences between active intervention conditions, and neither intervention showed advantages for reducing problems or increasing protective behaviors relative to the control condition.

Conclusions: Results suggest a very brief intervention can impact short-term alcohol use outcomes, with potentially no advantage of longer interventions for this population.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking / prevention & control
  • Alcohol Drinking / psychology*
  • Alcoholism / prevention & control
  • Alcoholism / therapy*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Psychotherapy, Brief / methods*
  • Students / psychology*
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult