Brief intervention in a primary care setting for hazardous drinkers

Am J Prev Med. Nov-Dec 1997;13(6):464-70.


Introduction: The study was designed to test a brief intervention for reducing alcohol consumption among moderate to heavy (hazardous) drinkers in a busy HMO primary care setting.

Methods: In a randomized controlled trial, hazardous drinkers (n = 516) were identified by the AUDIT screening questionnaire. Intervention included brief clinician advice (30 seconds), a 15-minute motivational session by counselors, and printed materials.

Results: At six-month follow-up, intervention subjects reported fewer total standard drinks in the past three months (176 versus 216, P = .04, one-tailed) and fewer drinking days per week (2.8 versus 3.3, P = .02) than controls, but similar drinks per drinking day (3.3 versus 3.5; P = .13). At 12 months, intervention subjects again reported fewer drinking days per week (2.7 versus 3.1; P = .04) than controls, but similar numbers of standard drinks (157 versus 179; P = .13) and drinks per drinking day (3.6 versus 3.3; P = .20). Intervention subjects were somewhat more likely than controls to report drinking within daily recommended limits (< or = 3 for men, < or = 2 for women) at both six months (79% versus 71%; P = .06) and 12 months (80% versus 73%; P = .07), but did not differ significantly from controls on other drinking outcomes (percent abstinent, frequency of drinking > or = 6 drinks per drinking occasion, estimated peak blood alcohol concentration), or use of medical care in the year following intervention.

Conclusions: A one-time, brief motivational intervention using minimal clinician time supplemented by trained counselors resulted in a modest reduction in frequency of alcohol consumption in a busy primary care population. Future research should focus on strengthening and maintaining intervention effects.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology
  • Alcohol Drinking / prevention & control*
  • Counseling
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Primary Health Care / methods*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires