A randomized controlled trial of brief intervention for problem alcohol use in persons with traumatic brain injury

J Head Trauma Rehabil. 2012 Sep-Oct;27(5):319-30. doi: 10.1097/HTR.0b013e318269838c.


Objective: : To investigate the effectiveness of brief intervention for modifying alcohol expectancies, readiness to change, and problem alcohol use in persons with traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Design: : Randomized controlled trial, with 3-month follow-up.

Setting: : Three level I Trauma Centers.

Participants: : One hundred four persons with complicated mild, moderate, or severe TBI, with preinjury problem alcohol use, who had emerged from posttraumatic amnesia.

Intervention: : Twenty- to 30-minute brief intervention (education and motivational interview).

Main measures: : Alcohol Expectancy Questionnaire-III Global Positive Expectancies and Cognitive and Physical Impairment scales; Readiness to Change Questionnaire; problem alcohol use.

Results: : After controlling for relevant covariates, there was an effect of treatment on expectation that alcohol use would result in cognitive and physical impairment. This effect was moderated by injury severity, and was only effective for those with severe injury. There was no treatment effect on global positive expectancies, readiness to change, or problem alcohol use. Attribution of injury to alcohol use was associated with the expectation that alcohol use would result in cognitive and physical impairment, and at one center, in greater readiness to change.

Conclusions: : Although the brief intervention did not have an impact on problem alcohol use, positive alcohol expectancies, or readiness to change, the results of this study suggest that brief intervention can be effective for educating on the negative impact of alcohol use for people with severe TBI who have emerged from posttraumatic amnesia. Attribution of the injury to alcohol use could potentially increase readiness to change in some settings, and might be used to generate discussion about the negative impact of alcohol use.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alcohol Drinking / prevention & control
  • Alcoholism / complications
  • Alcoholism / psychology
  • Alcoholism / rehabilitation*
  • Brain Injuries / etiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivational Interviewing*
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Young Adult