Brief interventions in dependent drinkers: a comparative prospective analysis in two hospitals

Alcohol Alcohol. Jul-Aug 2011;46(4):434-40. doi: 10.1093/alcalc/agr044. Epub 2011 May 12.


Aims: To investigate whether brief interventions (BIs) delivered by a dedicated Alcohol Specialist Nurse (ASN) to non-treatment-seeking alcohol-dependent patients in an acute hospital setting are effective in reducing alcohol consumption and dependence.

Methods: A prospective cohort control study in two acute NHS Hospital Trusts in the North West England, one of which provided BI (university teaching hospital-test site) while the other did not (district general hospital-control site), including follow-up BIs. Subjects were alcohol-dependent patients aged ≥18 years.

Results: A total of 100 patients were recruited at each site. No differences were found between the groups in the baseline demographic parameters or medical co-morbidities. At the test site, further sessions were sometimes offered, and 46 patients received more than one intervention (median 4, mean 6.3 and maximum 20). At 6 months, alcohol consumption (P < 0.0001), Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Tool (AUDIT) score (P < 0.0001) and Severity of Alcohol Dependence Questionnaire score (P = 0.0001) were significantly lower at the test site than the control site. Outcomes were found to be independent of both the baseline level of dependence and medical co-morbidity.

Conclusion: BI delivered by a dedicated ASN for non-treatment-seeking alcohol-dependent individuals, who often have significant medical co-morbidities, seem to be effective in an acute hospital setting. This study provides a framework to inform the design of a future randomized controlled trial.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / prevention & control*
  • Alcohol Drinking / psychology*
  • Alcoholism / prevention & control
  • Alcoholism / psychology*
  • Central Nervous System Depressants / adverse effects
  • Ethanol / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Hospitals, General
  • Hospitals, University*
  • Humans
  • Inpatients
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Psychotherapy, Brief*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Central Nervous System Depressants
  • Ethanol