The Relationship Between Drinking Behavior and Conversational Processes During a Brief Alcohol Reduction Intervention for People with HIV

AIDS Behav. 2022 Jan 10. doi: 10.1007/s10461-021-03553-w. Online ahead of print.


People with HIV (PWH) frequently engage in unhealthy alcohol use, which can adversely affect antiretroviral adherence and HIV disease progression. Brief interventions based on Motivational Interviewing (MI), including the Brief Negotiated Interview (BNI), can help to reduce drinking. This study examines MI processes observed during a single 15-20 min BNI session delivered by social workers to PWH with unhealthy alcohol use (N = 59) in the context of a stepped care intervention to reduce alcohol consumption. BNI sessions were coded for technical and relational processes encouraged in MI, such as autonomy support, instructive language, and self-exploration. Multiple regression analyses explored the relationship between: (1) Participants' pre-intervention drinking behaviors (weekly drinks and heavy drinking days) and these MI processes, and (2) MI processes and intervention outcomes. Results indicated that PWH who reported more weekly drinks at baseline engaged in less self-exploration, while social workers delivering the BNI used less instructive language for those who reported more heavy drinking days. PWH who engaged in more self-exploration and received more autonomy support had fewer heavy drinking days 6 months after the intervention. These findings suggest the value of providing more opportunities within BNIs to encourage self-exploration, as it may help to enhance intervention efficacy.

Keywords: Alcohol use; Brief intervention; HIV; Motivational interviewing.