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1.  Construct, Concurrent and Predictive Validity of the URICA: Data from Two Multi-site Clinical Trials 
Drug and alcohol dependence  2009;101(1-2):115-123.
A better understanding of how to measure motivation to change and how it relates to behavior change in patients with drug and alcohol dependence would broaden our understanding of the role of motivation in addiction treatment.
Two multi-site, randomized clinical trials comparing brief motivational interventions with standard care were conducted in the National Institute on Drug Abuse Clinical Trials Network. Patients with primary drug dependence and alcohol dependence entering outpatient treatment participated in a study of either Motivational Enhancement Therapy (n=431) or Motivational Interviewing (n=423). The construct, concurrent, and predictive validity of two composite measures of motivation to change derived from the University of Rhode Island Change Assessment (URICA): Readiness to Change (RTC) and Committed Action (CA) were evaluated.
Confirmatory factor analysis confirmed the a priori factor structure of the URICA. RTC was significantly associated with measures of addiction severity at baseline (r=.12-.52, p<.05). Although statistically significant (p<.01), the correlations between treatment outcomes and RTC were low (r=-.15 and -18). Additional analyses did not support a moderating or mediating effect of motivation on treatment retention or substance use.
The construct validity of the URICA was confirmed separately in a large sample of drug- and alcohol-dependent patients. However, evidence for the predictive validity of composite scores was very limited and there were no moderating or mediating effects of either measure on treatment outcome. Thus, increased motivation to change, as measured by the composite scores of motivation derived from the URICA, does not appear to influence treatment outcome.
PMCID: PMC3097110  PMID: 19157723
URICA; Motivation to Change; Substance Dependence; Readiness to Change; Committed Action; Motivational Interviewing; Motivational Enhancement Therapy
2.  Treatment Utilization and Unmet Treatment Need among Hispanics Following Brief Intervention 
In a large randomized trial examining ethnic differences in response to a brief alcohol intervention following an alcohol related injury, we showed that Hispanics, but not non-Hispanics, were more likely to reduce alcohol intake in comparison to treatment as usual (Field et al, 2010). The current study evaluates whether the observed improvements in drinking outcomes previously reported among Hispanics following brief intervention might be related to prior or subsequent treatment utilization. .
The present study is a secondary analysis of data collected in a randomized clinical trial that evaluated ethnic differences in the effect of a brief motivational intervention (BMI) on alcohol use among medical inpatients admitted for alcohol related injury. For the current study, statistical analyses were carried out to compare alcohol use, alcohol problems, treatment utilization and unmet treatment need between Hispanic (n=539) and White, non-Hispanic (n=667). In addition, we examined the relationship between prior treatment utilization and unmet treatment need and alcohol use outcomes following brief intervention and the impact of brief intervention on subsequent treatment utilization and unmet treatment need.
In comparison to White, non-Hispanics, Hispanics at baseline reported heavier drinking, more alcohol problems, greater unmet treatment need and lower rates of treatment utilization. Among Hispanics, multilevel analyses showed that prior treatment utilization or unmet treatment need did not moderate the effect of BMI on alcohol outcomes. Furthermore, BMI did not significantly impact subsequent treatment utilization or unmet treatment need among Hispanics. Finally, treatment utilization and unmet treatment need at six-months were not significant mediators between BMI and alcohol use outcomes at follow up.
The benefits of brief intervention among Hispanics do not appear to be better explained by subsequent engagement in mutual help groups or formal substance abuse treatment. Prior history of treatment, regardless of the severity of alcohol problems, does not appear to influence the impact of brief intervention on alcohol use among Hispanics. These findings support prior results reporting the benefits of brief intervention among Hispanics and demonstrate that these improvements are not related to prior or subsequent treatment utilization.
PMCID: PMC3484238  PMID: 22823528
Screening and brief intervention; alcohol; treatment seeking; Hispanic health disparity
3.  The Social Health Intervention Project (SHIP): Protocol for a randomized controlled clinical trial assessing the effectiveness of a brief motivational intervention for problem drinking and intimate partner violence in an urban emergency department 
There is a strong reciprocal association between two highly prevalent public health problems: intimate partner violence and heavy drinking, both of which remain major sources of morbidity and mortality. Brief interventions in the Emergency Department setting have been found to be effective in reducing alcohol-related injury but neither classic intimate partner violence nor substance abuse interventions have adequately integrated assessment and treatment for these co-occurring conditions. The overall goal of this study is to determine whether a motivational intervention delivered at the time of an Emergency Department visit will reduce heavy drinking and improve the safety of women experiencing intimate partner violence.
Methods and design
We are completing data collection for a randomized controlled trial enrolling 600 female patients, age 18–64, presenting to one of two urban Emergency Departments, who self-disclose both problem drinking and intimate partner violence. Eligible patients are randomized to a brief manual-guided motivational intervention, and a phone booster at 10 days. The intervention, which is delivered by masters-level therapists during the Emergency Department visit, is recorded and monitored for fidelity. Primary outcomes are episodes of heavy drinking and incidents of intimate partner violence, assessed weekly by Interactive Voice Response System for 12 weeks and at 3, 6 and 12 months by interviewers blinded to group assignment. To identify the impact of assessment alone, we included a no-contact control group assessed only once at 3 months. Secondary outcomes include violence severity, changes in the Composite Abuse Scale and alcohol quantity/frequency, along with other health-related behaviors. The analysis will also explore the impact of likely mediators and moderators of the intervention.
While screening and intervention for intimate partner violence is now recommended for women of child bearing age in health care settings, there is a need for rigorous evaluations of what works for whom. Upon completion, we will have high-quality evidence regarding the effectiveness of a low-intensity, brief motivational intervention, delivered by social workers in the Emergency Department setting, for decreasing episodes of heavy drinking and intimate partner violence. Ultimately, this is a model could be generalizable to other acute health care settings.
Trial Registration Registration Number: NCT01207258
PMCID: PMC4101846  PMID: 24742322
Problem drinking; Motivational interviewing; Intimate partner violence; Emergency department; Screening brief; Intervention and; Referral to treatment
4.  The efficacy of a brief intervention in reducing hazardous drinking in working age men in Russia: the HIM (Health for Izhevsk men) individually randomised parallel group exploratory trial 
Trials  2011;12:238.
Russia has particularly low life expectancy for an industrialised country, with mortality at working ages having fluctuated dramatically over the past few decades, particularly among men. Alcohol has been identified as the most likely cause of these temporal variations. One approach to reducing the alcohol problem in Russia is 'brief interventions' which seek to change views of the personal acceptability of excessive drinking and to encourage self-directed behaviour change. Very few studies to evaluate the efficacy of brief interventions in Russia have been conducted. Motivational Interviewing (MI) is a person-centred counselling style which can be adapted to brief interventions in which help is offered in thinking through behaviour in the context of values and goals, to decide whether change is needed, and if so, how it may best be achieved.
This paper reports on an individually randomised two-armed parallel group exploratory trial. The primary hypothesis is that a brief adaptation of MI will be effective in reducing self-reported hazardous and harmful drinking at 3 months. Participants were drawn from the Izhevsk Family Study II, with eligibility determined based on proxy reports of hazardous and harmful drinking in the past year. All participants underwent a health check, with MI subsequently delivered to those in the intervention arm. Signed consent was obtained from those in the intervention arm only at this point. Both groups were then invited for 3 and 12 month follow ups. The control group did not receive any additional intervention.
441 men were randomised. Of these 61 did not have a health check leaving 190 in each trial arm. Follow up at 3 months was high (97% of those having a health check), and very similar in the two trial arms (183 in the intervention and 187 in the control).
No significant differences were detected between the randomised groups in either the primary or the secondary outcomes at three months in the intention to treat analyses. The unadjusted odds ratio (95% CI) for the effect of MI on hazardous and harmful drinking was 0.77 (0.51, 1.16). An adjusted odds ratio of 0.52 (0.28, 0.94) was obtained in the pre-specified per protocol analysis.
This trial demonstrates that it is possible to engage Russian men who drink hazardously in a brief intervention aimed at reducing alcohol related harm. However the results with respect to the efficacy are equivocal and further, larger-scale trials are warranted.
Trial Registration
PMCID: PMC3222605  PMID: 22053775
5.  Emergency Department Brief Motivational Interventions for Alcohol With Motor Vehicle Crash Patients 
Annals of emergency medicine  2005;45(6):620-625.
Study objective
This study compares the effect of a brief motivational intervention for alcohol plus a booster given to emergency department (ED) patients with subcritical injuries from a motor vehicle crash with the effect of brief motivational intervention for alcohol plus a booster in patients treated for non-motor vehicle crash-related injuries.
A randomized controlled trial (n=539) was conducted at an urban Level I trauma center of brief intervention (1 ED session of brief intervention), brief motivational intervention for alcohol plus a booster (1 ED session plus booster session), or standard care for injured ED patients with an alcohol use problem who were being discharged home. At 12 months, alcohol-related negative consequences and injuries were measured. We performed a secondary analysis comparing motor vehicle crash-injured patients and non-motor vehicle crash-injured patients in the study sample.
Subcritically injured ED patients with harmful or hazardous alcohol use who received brief motivational intervention for alcohol plus a booster had fewer alcohol-related negative consequences and alcohol-related injuries than those receiving brief intervention or standard care at 12-month follow-up (previously reported). A secondary analysis of this result showed that motor vehicle crash patients (n=133) given brief motivational intervention for alcohol plus a booster (n=34) had fewer alcohol-related injuries than those receiving standard care (n=46; P=.001). Moreover, there were no significant differences in alcohol-related injuries among the non-motor vehicle crash-injured patients who received brief intervention or standard care.
Brief motivational intervention for alcohol plus a booster is a useful intervention for subcritically injured ED patients with harmful or hazardous alcohol use. Its effects may be moderated by the cause of injury. [Ann Emerg Med. 2005;45:620-625.]
PMCID: PMC2754120  PMID: 15940095
6.  Motivational interviewing: a systematic review and meta-analysis 
Motivational Interviewing is a well-known, scientifically tested method of counselling clients developed by Miller and Rollnick and viewed as a useful intervention strategy in the treatment of lifestyle problems and disease.
To evaluate the effectiveness of motivational interviewing in different areas of disease and to identify factors shaping outcomes.
Design of study
A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials using motivational interviewing as the intervention.
After selection criteria a systematic literature search in 16 databases produced 72 randomised controlled trials the first of which was published in 1991. A quality assessment was made with a validated scale. A meta-analysis was performed as a generic inverse variance meta-analysis.
Meta-analysis showed a significant effect (95% confidence interval) for motivational interviewing for combined effect estimates for body mass index, total blood cholesterol, systolic blood pressure, blood alcohol concentration and standard ethanol content, while combined effect estimates for cigarettes per day and for HbA1c were not significant. Motivational interviewing had a significant and clinically relevant effect in approximately three out of four studies, with an equal effect on physiological (72%) and psychological (75%) diseases. Psychologists and physicians obtained an effect in approximately 80% of the studies, while other healthcare providers obtained an effect in 46% of the studies. When using motivational interviewing in brief encounters of 15 minutes, 64% of the studies showed an effect. More than one encounter with the patient ensures the effectiveness of motivational interviewing.
Motivational interviewing in a scientific setting outperforms traditional advice giving in the treatment of a broad range of behavioural problems and diseases. Large-scale studies are now needed to prove that motivational interviewing can be implemented into daily clinical work in primary and secondary health care.
PMCID: PMC1463134  PMID: 15826439
body mass index; interview, psychological; meta-analysis; motivation; randomised controlled trials; review, systematic
7.  Using segmented regression analysis of interrupted time series data to assess colonoscopy quality outcomes of a web-enhanced implementation toolkit to support evidence-based practices for bowel preparation: a study protocol 
While there is convincing evidence on interventions to improve bowel preparation for patients, the evidence on how to implement these evidence-based practices (EBPs) in outpatient colonoscopy settings is less certain. The Strategies to Improve Colonoscopy (STIC) study compares the effect of two implementation strategies, physician education alone versus physician education plus an implementation toolkit for staff, on adoption of three EBPs (split-dosing of bowel preparation, low-literacy education, teach-back) to improve pre-procedure and intra-procedure quality measures. The implementation toolkit contains a staff education module, website containing tools to support staff in delivering EBPs, tailored patient education materials, and brief consultation with staff to determine how the EBPs can be integrated into the existing workflow. Given adaptations to the implementation plan and intentional flexibility in the delivery of the EBPs, we utilize a pragmatic study to balance external validity with demonstrating effectiveness of the implementation strategies.
Participants will include all outpatient colonoscopy physicians, staff, and patients from a convenience sample of six endoscopy settings. Aim #1 will explore the relative effect of two strategies to implement patient-level EBPs on adoption and clinical quality outcomes. We will assess the change in level and trends of clinical quality outcomes (i.e., adequacy of bowel preparation, adenoma detection) using segmented regression analysis of interrupted time series data with two groups (intervention and delayed start). Aim #2 will examine the influence of organizational readiness to change on EBP implementation. We use a PRECIS diagram to reflect the extent to which each indicator of the study was pragmatic versus explanatory, revealing a largely pragmatic study.
Implementation challenges have already motivated several adaptations to the original plan, reflecting the nature of implementation in real-world healthcare settings. The pragmatic study responds to the evolving needs of its healthcare partners and allows for flexibility in intervention delivery, thereby informing clinical decision-making in real-world settings. The current study will provide information about what works (intervention effectiveness), for whom it works (influence of Medicaid versus other insurance), in which contexts it works (setting characteristics that influence implementation), and how it works best (comparison of implementation strategies).
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13012-015-0276-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4465008  PMID: 26050105
Colonoscopy care; Evidence-based practice; Implementation strategies; Web-based; Toolkits; Pragmatic trial; PRECIS
8.  A motivational intervention for patients with COPD in primary care: qualitative evaluation of a new practitioner role 
BMC Family Practice  2014;15:164.
Long-term conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are growing challenges for health services. Psychosocial co-morbidity is associated with poorer quality of life and greater use of health care in these patients but is often un-diagnosed or inadequately treated in primary care, where most care for these patients is provided. We developed a brief intervention, delivered by ‘liaison health workers’ (LHWs), to address psychosocial needs in the context of an integrated approach to physical and mental health. We report a qualitative study in which we characterize the intervention through the experience of the patients receiving it and examine how it was incorporated into primary care.
Qualitative study using patient and practice staff informants. We audio-recorded interviews with 29 patients offered the intervention (three had declined it or withdrawn) and 13 practice staff (GPs, nurses and administrators). Analysis used a constant comparative approach.
Most patients were enthusiastic about the LHWs, describing the intervention as mobilizing their motivation for self-management. By contrast with other practitioners, patients experienced the LHWs as addressing their needs holistically, being guided by patient needs rather than professional agendas, forming individual relationships with patients and investing in patients and their capacity to change. Practices accommodated and accepted the LHWs, but positioned them as peripheral to and separate from the priority of physical care.
Despite being a short-term intervention, patients described it as having enduring motivational benefits. The elements of the intervention that patients described map onto the key features of motivating interventions described by Self-Determination Theory. We suggest that the LHWs motivated patients to self-management by: (i) respecting patients’ competence to decide on needs and priorities; (ii) forming relationships with patients as individuals; and (iii) fostering patients’ sense of autonomy. While truly integrated primary care for patients with long-term conditions such as COPD remains elusive, existing practice staff might adopt elements of the LHWs’ approach to enhance motivational change in patients with long-term conditions such as COPD.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2296-15-164) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4286939  PMID: 25284048
Primary care; Long-term conditions; Qualitative research; Motivational change; Psychosocial intervention
9.  Motivational Interviewing for encouraging quit attempts among unmotivated smokers: study protocol of a randomized, controlled, efficacy trial 
BMC Public Health  2012;12:456.
Although the current Clinical Practice Guideline recommend Motivational Interviewing for use with smokers not ready to quit, the strength of evidence for its use is rated as not optimal. The purpose of the present study is to address key methodological limitations of previous studies by ensuring fidelity in the delivery of the Motivational Interviewing intervention, using an attention-matched control condition, and focusing on unmotivated smokers whom meta-analyses have indicated may benefit most from Motivational Interviewing. It is hypothesized that MI will be more effective at inducing quit attempts and smoking cessation at 6-month follow-up than brief advice to quit and an intensity-matched health education condition.
A sample of adult community resident smokers (N = 255) who report low motivation and readiness to quit are being randomized using a 2:2:1 treatment allocation to Motivational Interviewing, Health Education, or Brief Advice. Over 6 months, participants in Motivational Interviewing and Health Education receive 4 individual counseling sessions and participants in Brief Advice receive one brief in-person individual session at baseline. Rigorous monitoring and independent verification of fidelity will assure the counseling approaches are distinct and delivered as planned. Participants complete surveys at baseline, week 12 and 6-month follow-up to assess demographics, smoking characteristics, and smoking outcomes. Participants who decide to quit are provided with a self-help guide to quitting, help with a quit plan, and free pharmacotherapy. The primary outcome is self-report of one or more quit attempts lasting at least 24 hours between randomization and 6-month follow-up. The secondary outcome is biochemically confirmed 7-day point prevalence cessation at 6-month follow-up. Hypothesized mediators of the presumed treatment effect on quit attempts are greater perceived autonomy support and autonomous motivation. Use of pharmacotherapy is a hypothesized mediator of Motivational Interviewing’s effect on cessation.
This trial will provide the most rigorous evaluation to date of Motivational Interviewing’s efficacy for encouraging unmotivated smokers to make a quit attempt. It will also provide effect-size estimates of MI’s impact on smoking cessation to inform future clinical trials and inform the Clinical Practice Guideline.
Trial registration NCT01188018
PMCID: PMC3487752  PMID: 22713093
Smoking; Motivational Interviewing; Health education; Brief advice
10.  Psychosocial mediators of change in physical activity in the Welsh national exercise referral scheme: secondary analysis of a randomised controlled trial 
While an increasing number of randomised controlled trials report impacts of exercise referral schemes (ERS) on physical activity, few have investigated the mechanisms through which increases in physical activity are produced. This study examines whether a National Exercise Referral Scheme (NERS) in Wales is associated with improvements in autonomous motivation, self-efficacy and social support, and whether change in physical activity is mediated by change in these psychosocial processes.
A pragmatic randomised controlled trial of NERS across 12 LHBs in Wales. Questionnaires measured demographic data and physical activity at baseline. Participants (N = 2160) with depression, anxiety or CHD risk factors were referred by health professionals and randomly assigned to control or intervention. At six months psychological process measures were collected by questionnaire. At 12 months physical activity was assessed by 7 Day PAR telephone interview. Regressions tested intervention effects on psychosocial variables, physical activity before and after adjusting for mediators and socio demographic patterning.
Significant intervention effects were found for autonomous motivation and social support for exercise at 6 months. No intervention effect was observed for self-efficacy. The data are consistent with a hypothesis of partial mediation of the intervention effect by autonomous motivation. Analysis of moderators showed significant improvements in relative autonomy in all subgroups. The greatest improvements in autonomous motivation were observed among patients who were least active at baseline.
The present study offered key insights into psychosocial processes of change in an exercise referral scheme, with effects on physical activity mediated by autonomous motivation. Findings support the use of self-determination theory as a framework for ERS. Further research is required to explain socio-demographic patterning in responses to ERS, with changes in motivation occurring among all sub-groups of participants, though not always leading to higher adherence or behavioural change. This highlights the importance of socio-ecological approaches to developing and evaluating behaviour change interventions, which consider factors beyond the individual, including conditions in which improved motivation does or does not produce behavioural change.
Trial register number
PMCID: PMC4173052  PMID: 25209188
11.  Staying at work with chronic nonspecific musculoskeletal pain: a qualitative study of workers' experiences 
Many people with chronic nonspecific musculoskeletal pain (CMP) have decreased work ability. The majority, however, stays at work despite their pain. Knowledge about workers who stay at work despite chronic pain is limited, narrowing our views on work participation. The aim of this study was to explore why people with CMP stay at work despite pain (motivators) and how they manage to maintain working (success factors).
A semi-structured interview was conducted among 21 subjects who stay at work despite CMP. Participants were included through purposeful sampling. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim, and imported into computer software Atlas.ti. Data was analyzed by means of thematic analysis. The interviews consisted of open questions such as: "Why are you working with pain?" or "How do you manage working while having pain?"
A total of 16 motivators and 52 success factors emerged in the interviews. Motivators were categorized into four themes: work as value, work as therapy, work as income generator, and work as responsibility. Success factors were categorized into five themes: personal characteristics, adjustment latitude, coping with pain, use of healthcare services, and pain beliefs.
Personal characteristics, well-developed self-management skills, and motivation to work may be considered to be important success factors and prerequisites for staying at work, resulting in behaviors promoting staying at work such as: raising adjustment latitude, changing pain-coping strategies, organizing modifications and conditions at work, finding access to healthcare services, and asking for support. Motivators and success factors for staying at work may be used for interventions in rehabilitation and occupational medicine, to prevent absenteeism, or to promote a sustainable return to work. This qualitative study has evoked new hypotheses about staying at work; quantitative studies on staying at work are needed to obtain further evidence.
PMCID: PMC3121659  PMID: 21639884
12.  Moderators and Mediators of Two Brief Interventions for Alcohol in the Emergency Department 
Addiction (Abingdon, England)  2010;105(3):452-465.
Evaluate moderators and mediators of brief alcohol interventions conducted in the Emergency Department.
Patients (18–24 years; N = 172) in an Emergency Department received a motivational interview with personalized feedback (MI) or feedback only (FO), with 1- and 3-month booster sessions and 6- and 12-month follow ups. Gender, alcohol status/severity group (ALC+ Only, AUDIT+ Only, ALC+/AUDIT+), attribution of alcohol in the medical event, aversiveness of the event, perceived seriousness of the event, and baseline readiness to change alcohol use were evaluated as moderators of intervention efficacy. Readiness to change also was evaluated as a mediator of intervention efficacy, as were perceived risks/benefits of alcohol use, self-efficacy, and alcohol treatment seeking.
Alcohol status, attribution, and readiness moderated intervention effects such that patients who had not been drinking prior to their medical event, those who had low or medium attribution for alcohol in the event, and those who had low or medium readiness to change showed lower alcohol use 12 months after receiving MI compared to FO. In the AUDIT+ Only group those who received MI showed lower rates of alcohol-related injury at follow up than those who received FO. Patients who had been drinking prior to their precipitating event did not show different outcomes in the two interventions, regardless of AUDIT status. Gender did not moderate intervention efficacy and no significant mediation was found.
Findings may help practitioners target patients for whom brief interventions will be most effective. More research is needed to understand how brief interventions transmit their effects.
PMCID: PMC2858352  PMID: 20402989
Alcohol; Brief Intervention; Emergency Room
13.  Picture Me Smokefree: A Qualitative Study Using Social Media and Digital Photography to Engage Young Adults in Tobacco Reduction and Cessation 
Young adults have high rates of tobacco use compared to other subpopulations, yet there are relatively few tobacco interventions specifically targeted to this group. Picture Me Smokefree is an online tobacco reduction and cessation intervention for young adults that uses digital photography and social networking.
The main goal of the project was to determine the feasibility of engaging young adults in participating in user-driven, online forums intended to provide peer support and motivate critical reflection about tobacco use and cessation among this high-use, hard-to-reach population. A related aim was to explore the influence of gender-related factors on participation, in order to determine the need for online interventions to be tailored to the specific gender preferences reflecting young men and women’s participation styles.
A total of 60 young adults ages 19-24 years who self-identified as current cigarette smokers or who had quit within the last year were recruited from across British Columbia, Canada, and participated in an online photo group on Facebook over a period of 12 consecutive weeks. A variety of data collection methods were used including tracking online activity, a brief online follow-up survey, and qualitative interviews with study participants. Data analysis involved descriptive statistics on recruitment, retention, and participation and qualitative (eg, narrative analysis, synthesis of feedback) feedback about participant engagement.
Findings from this study suggest good potential for Facebook as an accessible, low-cost platform for engaging young adults to reflect on the reasons for their tobacco use, the benefits of quitting or reducing, and the best strategies for tobacco reduction. Young adults’ frequent use of mobile phones and other mobile devices to access social networking permitted ease of access and facilitated real-time peer-to-peer support across a diverse group of participants. However, our experience of conducting the study suggests that working with young tobacco users can be accompanied by considerable recruitment, participation, and retention challenges. Our findings also pointed to differences in how young women and men engaged the photo-group intervention that should be considered, bearing in mind that in follow-up interviews participants indicated their preference for a mixed gender and “gender neutral” group format.
Tobacco interventions for youth and young adults should be embedded within the existing social networking platforms they access most frequently, rather than designing a stand-alone online prevention or intervention resource. This subpopulation would likely benefit from tobacco reduction interventions that are gender-sensitive rather than gender-specific.
PMCID: PMC4327185  PMID: 25624064
smoking cessation; tobacco use; young adults; Facebook; participatory visual methods
14.  Readiness to Change in Brief Motivational Interventions: A Requisite Condition for Drinking Reductions? 
Addictive behaviors  2008;34(2):232-235.
Brief motivational interventions (BMIs) have been found to be efficacious for reducing alcohol use and consequences among college student drinkers. Despite the putative emphasis on motivation, surprisingly little is known about the role of motivation in BMI-facilitated changes. Using data from three published randomized trials implementing BMIs, we examined motivation or readiness to change (RTC) as a potential mechanism of behavior change. Two of the three studies indicated that BMI were associated with increases in motivation to change alcohol use that are apparent immediately after BMI sessions and persist up to 6-months post-intervention. However, RTC does not appear to be a mechanism of behavior change, as it did not mediate reductions in alcohol use or problems in any of the studies. Issues regarding the conceptualization and measurement of RTC are discussed, as well as promising directions for future research.
PMCID: PMC2635060  PMID: 18990500
15.  The potential utility of drinking motive questions to screen at-risk drinking in socially anxious patients 
Journal of substance use  2013;19(3):225-228.
Drinking motives are thought to be important mediators of the relationship between social anxiety and alcohol use. This project evaluates whether specific drinking motives accurately reflect alcohol dependence. If so, brief questions about drinking motives could serve as valuable alcohol screening tools with socially anxious patients.
This investigation was a secondary analysis of an existing data set of 83 subjects with social anxiety disorder and at-risk alcohol use. The relationship between Drinking Motives Questionnaire (DMQ-R-5) subscales and alcohol dependence was evaluated.
Coping-Depression was the only subscale that contributed to the unique prediction of a diagnosis of alcohol dependence. Additionally, two items (i.e. “to cheer up when you’re in a bad mood” and “to forget painful memories”) predicted a diagnosis of alcohol dependence above and beyond their association with each other.
Among patients with social anxiety, two specific questions on the DMQ-R-5 could provide a useful screen for health professionals to predict alcohol dependence. It may be fruitful to specifically target the motives of “to cheer up when you’re in a bad mood” and “to forget painful memories” when providing advice during brief interventions.
PMCID: PMC4073203  PMID: 24982593
Social anxiety; drinking motives; alcohol screening
16.  Motivation and its Relationship to Neurocognition, Social Cognition, and Functional Outcome in Schizophrenia 
Schizophrenia research  2009;115(1):74-81.
A burgeoning area of research has focused on motivational deficits in schizophrenia, producing hypotheses about the role that motivation plays in the well-known relationship between neurocognition and functional outcome. However, little work has examined the role of motivation in more complex models of outcome that include social cognition, despite our increased understanding of the critical role of social cognition in community functioning in schizophrenia, and despite new basic science findings on the association between social cognitive and reward processing in neural systems in humans. Using path analysis, we directly contrasted whether motivation 1) causally influences known social cognitive deficits in schizophrenia, leading to poor outcome or 2) mediates the relationship between social cognitive deficits and outcome in this illness.
Ninety one patients with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder completed interview-based measures of motivation and functional outcome as well as standardized measures of neurocognition and social cognition in a cross-sectional design.
In line with recent research, motivation appears to mediate the relationship between neurocognition, social cognition and functional outcome. A model with motivation as a causal factor resulted in poor fit indicating that motivation does not appear to precede neurocognition.
Findings in the present study indicate that motivation plays a significant and mediating role between neurocognition, social cognition, and functional outcome. Potential psychosocial treatment implications are discussed, especially those that emphasize social cognitive and motivational enhancement.
PMCID: PMC2757502  PMID: 19783407
schizophrenia; social cognition; neurocognition; motivation; functional outcome; path analysis
17.  Behavioural Interventions for Urinary Incontinence in Community-Dwelling Seniors 
Executive Summary
In early August 2007, the Medical Advisory Secretariat began work on the Aging in the Community project, an evidence-based review of the literature surrounding healthy aging in the community. The Health System Strategy Division at the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care subsequently asked the secretariat to provide an evidentiary platform for the ministry’s newly released Aging at Home Strategy.
After a broad literature review and consultation with experts, the secretariat identified 4 key areas that strongly predict an elderly person’s transition from independent community living to a long-term care home. Evidence-based analyses have been prepared for each of these 4 areas: falls and fall-related injuries, urinary incontinence, dementia, and social isolation. For the first area, falls and fall-related injuries, an economic model is described in a separate report.
Please visit the Medical Advisory Secretariat Web site,, to review these titles within the Aging in the Community series.
Aging in the Community: Summary of Evidence-Based Analyses
Prevention of Falls and Fall-Related Injuries in Community-Dwelling Seniors: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Behavioural Interventions for Urinary Incontinence in Community-Dwelling Seniors: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Caregiver- and Patient-Directed Interventions for Dementia: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Social Isolation in Community-Dwelling Seniors: An Evidence-Based Analysis
The Falls/Fractures Economic Model in Ontario Residents Aged 65 Years and Over (FEMOR)
To assess the effectiveness of behavioural interventions for the treatment and management of urinary incontinence (UI) in community-dwelling seniors.
Clinical Need: Target Population and Condition
Urinary incontinence defined as “the complaint of any involuntary leakage of urine” was identified as 1 of the key predictors in a senior’s transition from independent community living to admission to a long-term care (LTC) home. Urinary incontinence is a health problem that affects a substantial proportion of Ontario’s community-dwelling seniors (and indirectly affects caregivers), impacting their health, functioning, well-being and quality of life. Based on Canadian studies, prevalence estimates range from 9% to 30% for senior men and nearly double from 19% to 55% for senior women. The direct and indirect costs associated with UI are substantial. It is estimated that the total annual costs in Canada are $1.5 billion (Cdn), and that each year a senior living at home will spend $1,000 to $1,500 on incontinence supplies.
Interventions to treat and manage UI can be classified into broad categories which include lifestyle modification, behavioural techniques, medications, devices (e.g., continence pessaries), surgical interventions and adjunctive measures (e.g., absorbent products).
The focus of this review is behavioural interventions, since they are commonly the first line of treatment considered in seniors given that they are the least invasive options with no reported side effects, do not limit future treatment options, and can be applied in combination with other therapies. In addition, many seniors would not be ideal candidates for other types of interventions involving more risk, such as surgical measures.
Note: It is recognized that the terms “senior” and “elderly” carry a range of meanings for different audiences; this report generally uses the former, but the terms are treated here as essentially interchangeable.
Description of Technology/Therapy
Behavioural interventions can be divided into 2 categories according to the target population: caregiver-dependent techniques and patient-directed techniques. Caregiver-dependent techniques (also known as toileting assistance) are targeted at medically complex, frail individuals living at home with the assistance of a caregiver, who tends to be a family member. These seniors may also have cognitive deficits and/or motor deficits. A health care professional trains the senior’s caregiver to deliver an intervention such as prompted voiding, habit retraining, or timed voiding. The health care professional who trains the caregiver is commonly a nurse or a nurse with advanced training in the management of UI, such as a nurse continence advisor (NCA) or a clinical nurse specialist (CNS).
The second category of behavioural interventions consists of patient-directed techniques targeted towards mobile, motivated seniors. Seniors in this population are cognitively able, free from any major physical deficits, and motivated to regain and/or improve their continence. A nurse or a nurse with advanced training in UI management, such as an NCA or CNS, delivers the patient-directed techniques. These are often provided as multicomponent interventions including a combination of bladder training techniques, pelvic floor muscle training (PFMT), education on bladder control strategies, and self-monitoring. Pelvic floor muscle training, defined as a program of repeated pelvic floor muscle contractions taught and supervised by a health care professional, may be employed as part of a multicomponent intervention or in isolation.
Education is a large component of both caregiver-dependent and patient-directed behavioural interventions, and patient and/or caregiver involvement as well as continued practice strongly affect the success of treatment. Incontinence products, which include a large variety of pads and devices for effective containment of urine, may be used in conjunction with behavioural techniques at any point in the patient’s management.
Evidence-Based Analysis Methods
A comprehensive search strategy was used to identify systematic reviews and randomized controlled trials that examined the effectiveness, safety, and cost-effectiveness of caregiver-dependent and patient-directed behavioural interventions for the treatment of UI in community-dwelling seniors (see Appendix 1).
Research Questions
Are caregiver-dependent behavioural interventions effective in improving UI in medically complex, frail community-dwelling seniors with/without cognitive deficits and/or motor deficits?
Are patient-directed behavioural interventions effective in improving UI in mobile, motivated community-dwelling seniors?
Are behavioural interventions delivered by NCAs or CNSs in a clinic setting effective in improving incontinence outcomes in community-dwelling seniors?
Assessment of Quality of Evidence
The quality of the evidence was assessed as high, moderate, low, or very low according to the GRADE methodology and GRADE Working Group. As per GRADE the following definitions apply:
Summary of Findings
Executive Summary Table 1 summarizes the results of the analysis.
The available evidence was limited by considerable variation in study populations and in the type and severity of UI for studies examining both caregiver-directed and patient-directed interventions. The UI literature frequently is limited to reporting subjective outcome measures such as patient observations and symptoms. The primary outcome of interest, admission to a LTC home, was not reported in the UI literature. The number of eligible studies was low, and there were limited data on long-term follow-up.
Summary of Evidence on Behavioural Interventions for the Treatment of Urinary Incontinence in Community-Dwelling Seniors
Prompted voiding
Habit retraining
Timed voiding
Bladder training
PFMT (with or without biofeedback)
Bladder control strategies
CI refers to confidence interval; CNS, clinical nurse specialist; NCA, nurse continence advisor; PFMT, pelvic floor muscle training; RCT, randomized controlled trial; WMD, weighted mean difference; UI, urinary incontinence.
Economic Analysis
A budget impact analysis was conducted to forecast costs for caregiver-dependent and patient-directed multicomponent behavioural techniques delivered by NCAs, and PFMT alone delivered by physiotherapists. All costs are reported in 2008 Canadian dollars. Based on epidemiological data, published medical literature and clinical expert opinion, the annual cost of caregiver-dependent behavioural techniques was estimated to be $9.2 M, while the annual costs of patient-directed behavioural techniques delivered by either an NCA or physiotherapist were estimated to be $25.5 M and $36.1 M, respectively. Estimates will vary if the underlying assumptions are changed.
Currently, the province of Ontario absorbs the cost of NCAs (available through the 42 Community Care Access Centres across the province) in the home setting. The 2007 Incontinence Care in the Community Report estimated that the total cost being absorbed by the public system of providing continence care in the home is $19.5 M in Ontario. This cost estimate included resources such as personnel, communication with physicians, record keeping and product costs. Clinic costs were not included in this estimation because currently these come out of the global budget of the respective hospital and very few continence clinics actually exist in the province. The budget impact analysis factored in a cost for the clinic setting, assuming that the public system would absorb the cost with this new model of community care.
Considerations for Ontario Health System
An expert panel on aging in the community met on 3 occasions from January to May 2008, and in part, discussed treatment of UI in seniors in Ontario with a focus on caregiver-dependent and patient-directed behavioural interventions. In particular, the panel discussed how treatment for UI is made available to seniors in Ontario and who provides the service. Some of the major themes arising from the discussions included:
Services/interventions that currently exist in Ontario offering behavioural interventions to treat UI are not consistent. There is a lack of consistency in how seniors access services for treatment of UI, who manages patients and what treatment patients receive.
Help-seeking behaviours are important to consider when designing optimal service delivery methods.
There is considerable social stigma associated with UI and therefore there is a need for public education and an awareness campaign.
The cost of incontinent supplies and the availability of NCAs were highlighted.
There is moderate-quality evidence that the following interventions are effective in improving UI in mobile motivated seniors:
Multicomponent behavioural interventions including a combination of bladder training techniques, PFMT (with or without biofeedback), education on bladder control strategies and self-monitoring techniques.
Pelvic floor muscle training alone.
There is moderate quality evidence that when behavioural interventions are led by NCAs or CNSs in a clinic setting, they are effective in improving UI in seniors.
There is limited low-quality evidence that prompted voiding may be effective in medically complex, frail seniors with motivated caregivers.
There is insufficient evidence for the following interventions in medically complex, frail seniors with motivated caregivers:
habit retraining, and
timed voiding.
PMCID: PMC3377527  PMID: 23074508
18.  Effectiveness of screening and brief alcohol intervention in primary care (SIPS trial): pragmatic cluster randomised controlled trial 
Objective To evaluate the effectiveness of different brief intervention strategies at reducing hazardous or harmful drinking in primary care. The hypothesis was that more intensive intervention would result in a greater reduction in hazardous or harmful drinking.
Design Pragmatic cluster randomised controlled trial.
Setting Primary care practices in the north east and south east of England and in London.
Participants 3562 patients aged 18 or more routinely presenting in primary care, of whom 2991 (84.0%) were eligible to enter the trial: 900 (30.1%) screened positive for hazardous or harmful drinking and 756 (84.0%) received a brief intervention. The sample was predominantly male (62%) and white (92%), and 34% were current smokers.
Interventions Practices were randomised to three interventions, each of which built on the previous one: a patient information leaflet control group, five minutes of structured brief advice, and 20 minutes of brief lifestyle counselling. Delivery of the patient leaflet and brief advice occurred directly after screening and brief lifestyle counselling in a subsequent consultation.
Main outcome measures The primary outcome was patients’ self reported hazardous or harmful drinking status as measured by the alcohol use disorders identification test (AUDIT) at six months. A negative AUDIT result (score <8) indicated non-hazardous or non-harmful drinking. Secondary outcomes were a negative AUDIT result at 12 months, experience of alcohol related problems (alcohol problems questionnaire), health utility (EQ-5D), service utilisation, and patients’ motivation to change drinking behaviour (readiness to change) as measured by a modified readiness ruler.
Results Patient follow-up rates were 83% at six months (n=644) and 79% at 12 months (n=617). At both time points an intention to treat analysis found no significant differences in AUDIT negative status between the three interventions. Compared with the patient information leaflet group, the odds ratio of having a negative AUDIT result for brief advice was 0.85 (95% confidence interval 0.52 to 1.39) and for brief lifestyle counselling was 0.78 (0.48 to 1.25). A per protocol analysis confirmed these findings.
Conclusions All patients received simple feedback on their screening outcome. Beyond this input, however, evidence that brief advice or brief lifestyle counselling provided important additional benefit in reducing hazardous or harmful drinking compared with the patient information leaflet was lacking.
Trial registration Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN06145674.
PMCID: PMC3541471  PMID: 23303891
19.  The impact of a brief mindfulness meditation intervention on cognitive control and error-related performance monitoring 
Meditation is associated with positive health behaviors and improved cognitive control. One mechanism for the relationship between meditation and cognitive control is changes in activity of the anterior cingulate cortex-mediated neural pathways. The error-related negativity (ERN) and error positivity (Pe) components of the scalp-recorded event-related potential (ERP) represent cingulate-mediated functions of performance monitoring that may be modulated by mindfulness meditation. We utilized a flanker task, an experimental design, and a brief mindfulness intervention in a sample of 55 healthy non-meditators (n = 28 randomly assigned to the mindfulness group and n = 27 randomly assigned to the control group) to examine autonomic nervous system functions as measured by blood pressure and indices of cognitive control as measured by response times, error rates, post-error slowing, and the ERN and Pe components of the ERP. Systolic blood pressure significantly differentiated groups following the mindfulness intervention and following the flanker task. There were non-significant differences between the mindfulness and control groups for response times, post-error slowing, and error rates on the flanker task. Amplitude and latency of the ERN did not differ between groups; however, amplitude of the Pe was significantly smaller in individuals in the mindfulness group than in the control group. Findings suggest that a brief mindfulness intervention is associated with reduced autonomic arousal and decreased amplitude of the Pe, an ERP associated with error awareness, attention, and motivational salience, but does not alter amplitude of the ERN or behavioral performance. Implications for brief mindfulness interventions and state vs. trait affect theories of the ERN are discussed. Future research examining graded levels of mindfulness and tracking error awareness will clarify relationship between mindfulness and performance monitoring.
PMCID: PMC3705166  PMID: 23847491
mindfulness; meditation; event-related potential; error negativity; error-related negativity; post-error positivity; error positivity; cognitive control
20.  A qualitative analysis of statements on motivation of applicants for medical school 
BMC Medical Education  2014;14:200.
Selection committees try to ascertain that motivated students are selected for medical school. Self-determination theory stresses that the type of motivation is more important than the quantity of motivation. Autonomous motivation, compared to controlled motivation, in students leads to better learning outcomes. Applicants can express their motivation in written statements, a selection tool which has been found to elicit heterogeneous responses, hampering the comparison of applicants. This study investigates the content of applicants’ statements on motivation for medical school in particular, the possibility to distinguish the type of motivation and the differences between selected and non-selected applicants.
A thematic analysis was conducted on written statements on motivation (n = 96), collected as a part of the selection procedure for the graduate entry program for medicine and research at our institution. Themes were identified as motivation-related and motivation-unrelated (additional). The motivation-related themes were further classified as autonomous and controlled types of motivation. Group percentages for each theme were compared between selected and non-selected applicants using Chi-square test and Fisher exact test.
Applicants mainly described reasons belonging to autonomous type of motivation and fewer reasons belonging to controlled type of motivation. Additional themes in the statements included previous work experience and academic qualifications, ambitions, expectations and descriptions of the program and profession, personal qualities, and personal history. Applicants used strong words to support their stories. The selected and non-selected applicants did not differ in their types of motivation. Non-selected applicants provided more descriptions of personal history than selected applicants (p < 0.05).
The statement on motivation does not appear to distinguish between applicants in selection for medical school. Both selected and non-selected applicants reported mainly autonomous motivation for applying, and included a lot of additional information, which was beyond the scope of what was asked from them. The findings raise a question mark on the validity and reliability of the statement on motivation as a tool for selection. It could however be of added value to enable applicants to tell their story, which they appreciate, and to create awareness of the program, resulting in an informed decision to apply.
PMCID: PMC4180534  PMID: 25248374
Admissions; Medical school selection; Motivation; Self-determination theory; Qualitative methods
21.  Using theory and formative research to design interventions to improve community health worker motivation, retention and performance in Mozambique and Uganda 
Community health workers (CHWs) are increasingly being used in low-income countries to address human resources shortages, yet there remain few effective, evidence-based strategies for addressing the enduring programmatic constraints of worker motivation, retention and performance. This paper describes how two interventions were designed by the Innovations at Scale for Community Access and Lasting Effects (inSCALE) project to address these constraints in Uganda and Mozambique drawing on behavioural theory and formative research results.
A review of the work motivation and CHW motivation literature—incorporating influences on retention and performance—was conducted on articles sourced through electronic web searches. Formative research with a focus on the barriers and facilitators to CHW motivation, retention and performance was conducted with community health workers and key stakeholders in Uganda and Mozambique. An analytical induction approach to the thematic analysis of transcripts from 98 in-depth interviews and 26 focus group discussions was adopted across the country settings.
From the theoretical review, it was determined that the interventions should promote CHWs as members of a collective by highlighting a sense of shared experience, focus on alignment between worker and programme goals, and emphasise the actions that lead to good performance. The Social Identity Approach was selected as the theory most likely to lead to the development of effective, scalable and sustainable interventions by addressing the identified gap in the literature of the influence of CHW working context. The formative research indicated that CHWs value feedback and feeling connected to the health system and their community, are motivated by status and community standing, and want to be provided with the necessary tools to perform. Two interventions based on these results were developed: a participatory, local community approach and an information communication technology (ICT) approach.
Drawing on contextual data and theory that is sensitive to context can potentially lead to the development of appropriate and effective interventions when aiming to improve the motivation, retention and performance of CHWs in Uganda and Mozambique and other comparable settings. Evaluation of the developed interventions is crucial to assess this potential.
PMCID: PMC4426548  PMID: 25925007
Community health workers; Motivation; Retention; Performance; Social Identity Approach; Human resources for health; Uganda; Mozambique
22.  Clinical trial on the efficacy of exhaled carbon monoxide measurement in smoking cessation in primary health care 
BMC Public Health  2012;12:322.
Smoking cessation is beneficial for our health at any point in life, both in healthy people and in people already suffering from a smoking-related disease. Any help to quit smoking can produce considerable benefits for Public Health. The purpose of the present study is to evaluate the efficacy of the CO-oximetry technique together with brief advice in smoking cessation, in terms of reduction of the number of cigarettes or in the variation of the motivation to quit smoking at month 12 compared with brief advice alone.
Randomised, parallel, single-blind clinical trial in a primary health care setting in Majorca (Spain). Smokers in contemplation or pre-contemplation phase will be included in the study. Exclusion criteria: Smokers in preparation phase, subjects with a terminal illness or whose health status does not allow them to understand the study or complete the informed consent, and pregnant or breastfeeding women. The subjects will be randomly assigned to the control group (CG) or the intervention group (IG). The CG will receive brief advice, and the IG will receive brief advice together with a measurement of exhaled CO. There will be follow-up evaluations at 6 and 12 months after inclusion. 471 subjects will be needed per group in order to detect a difference between groups ≥ 5%. Primary outcome: sustained smoking cessation (at 6 and 12 months) confirmed by urine cotinine test. Secondary outcomes: point smoking cessation at 6 and 12 months both confirmed by urine cotinine analysis and self-reported, reduction in cigarette consumption, and variation in phase of smoking cessation.
CO-oximetry is an inexpensive, non-invasive, fast technique that requires little technical training; making it a technique for risk assessment in smokers that can be easily applied in primary care and, if proven effective, could serve as a reinforcement aid in smoking cessation intervention activities.
Trial Registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN67499921
PMCID: PMC3390274  PMID: 22551017
23.  A pilot study to assess the feasibility and impact of a brief motivational intervention on problem drug and alcohol use in adult mental health inpatient units: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial 
Trials  2014;15:308.
Substance misuse in those with severe mental health problems is common and associated with poor engagement in treatment and treatment outcomes. Up to 44% of those admitted into psychiatric inpatient facilities have coexisting substance-misuse problems. However, this is not routinely addressed as part of their treatment plan. A mental health admission may present a window of opportunity for inpatients to reevaluate the impact of their substance use. This study will aim to evaluate the effectiveness of a targeted brief motivational intervention in improving engagement in treatment and to assess how feasible and acceptable this intervention is to inpatients and staff as a routine intervention.
This randomized controlled trial will use concealed randomization; blind, independent assessment of outcome at 3 months; characterization of refusers and dropouts; and be analyzed according to the intention-to-treat principle. After baseline assessments, eligible participants will be randomized either to the Brief Integrated Motivational Intervention plus Treatment As Usual, or Treatment as Usual alone. Eligible participants will be those who are new admissions; >18 years; ICD-10 diagnosis of -schizophrenia or related disorder, bipolar affective disorder, recurrent depressive disorder, and DSM-IV diagnosis of substance abuse or dependence over the last 3 months. The primary outcome is engagement in treatment for substance misuse, and secondary outcomes include readiness to change substance misuse together with a cost-effectiveness analysis. Qualitative interviews with staff and participants will assess the acceptability of the intervention.
This pilot randomized trial will provide the first robust evidence base for inpatient care of people with severe mental health problems and co-morbid substance misuse and provide the groundwork for confirmatory trials to evaluate a potentially feasible, cost-effective, and easy-to-implement treatment option that may be readily integrated into standard inpatient and community-based care.
Trial registration
ISRCTN43548483 Date of ISRCTN assignation: 4/17/2014.
PMCID: PMC4124140  PMID: 25085539
Inpatient; Comorbid; intervention; Brief motivational intervention; Treatment; Randomized controlled trial; Dual diagnosis; Substance misuse; Severe mental health condition; Schizophrenia; Psychiatric hospital admission
24.  Meta-analysis of Randomized Control Trials Addressing Brief Interventions in Heavy Alcohol Drinkers 
To assess the effectiveness of brief interventions in heavy drinkers by analyzing the outcome data and methodologic quality.
(1) Qualitative analysis of randomized control trials (RCTs) using criteria from Chalmers’ scoring system; (2) calculating and combining odds ratios (ORs) of RCTs using the One-Step (Peto) and the Mantel-Haenszel methods.
A MEDLINE and PsycLIT search identified RCTs testing brief interventions in heavy alcohol drinkers. Brief interventions were less than 1 hour and incorporated simple motivational counseling techniques much like outpatient smoking cessation programs. By a single-reviewer, nonblinded format, eligible studies were selected for adult subjects, sample sizes greater than 30, a randomized control design, and incorporation of brief alcohol interventions. Methodologic quality was assessed using an established scoring system developed by Chalmers and colleagues. Outcome data were combined by the One-Step (Peto) method; confidence limits and ξ2 test for heterogeneity were calculated.
Twelve RCTs met all inclusion criteria, with an average quality score of 0.49 ± 0.17. This was comparable to published average scores in other areas of research (0.42 ± 0.16). Outcome data from RCTs were pooled, and a combined OR was close to 2 (1.91; 95% confidence interval 1.61–2.27) in favor of brief alcohol interventions over no intervention. This was consistent across gender, intensity of intervention, type of clinical setting, and higher-quality clinical trials.
Heavy drinkers who received a brief intervention were twice as likely to moderate their drinking 6 to 12 months after an intervention when compared with heavy drinkers who received no intervention. Brief intervention is a low-cost, effective preventive measure for heavy drinkers in outpatient settings.
PMCID: PMC1497107  PMID: 9159696
meta-analysis; qualitative analysis; randomized control trial; heavy drinking; brief clinical interventions
25.  The Effectiveness of Emergency Obstetric Referral Interventions in Developing Country Settings: A Systematic Review 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(7):e1001264.
In a systematic review of the literature, Julia Hussein and colleagues seek to determine the effect of referral interventions that enable emergency access to health facilities for pregnant women living in developing countries.
Pregnancy complications can be unpredictable and many women in developing countries cannot access health facilities where life-saving care is available. This study assesses the effects of referral interventions that enable pregnant women to reach health facilities during an emergency, after the decision to seek care is made.
Methods and findings
Selected bibliographic databases were searched with no date or language restrictions. Randomised controlled trials and quasi experimental study designs with a comparison group were included. Outcomes of interest included maternal and neonatal mortality and other intermediate measures such as service utilisation. Two reviewers independently selected, appraised, and extracted articles using predefined fields. Forest plots, tables, and qualitative summaries of study quality, size, and direction of effect were used for analysis.
Nineteen studies were included. In South Asian settings, four studies of organisational interventions in communities that generated funds for transport reduced neonatal deaths, with the largest effect seen in India (odds ratio 0·48 95% CI 0·34–0·68). Three quasi experimental studies from sub-Saharan Africa reported reductions in stillbirths with maternity waiting home interventions, with one statistically significant result (OR 0.56 95% CI 0.32–0.96). Effects of interventions on maternal mortality were unclear. Referral interventions usually improved utilisation of health services but the opposite effect was also documented. The effects of multiple interventions in the studies could not be disentangled. Explanatory mechanisms through which the interventions worked could not be ascertained.
Community mobilisation interventions may reduce neonatal mortality but the contribution of referral components cannot be ascertained. The reduction in stillbirth rates resulting from maternity waiting homes needs further study. Referral interventions can have unexpected adverse effects. To inform the implementation of effective referral interventions, improved monitoring and evaluation practices are necessary, along with studies that develop better understanding of how interventions work.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Every year, about 350,000 women die from pregnancy- or childbirth-related complications. Almost all of these “maternal” deaths occur in developing countries. In sub-Saharan Africa, for example, the maternal mortality ratio (MMR, the number of maternal deaths per 100,000 live births) is 500 and a woman's life-time risk of dying from complications of pregnancy or childbirth is 1 in 39. By contrast, the MMR in industrialized countries is 12 and women have a life-time risk of maternal death of 1 in 4,700. Most maternal deaths are caused by hemorrhage (severe bleeding after childbirth), post-delivery infections, obstructed (difficult) labor, and blood pressure disorders during pregnancy, all of which are preventable or treatable conditions. Unfortunately, it is hard to predict which women will develop pregnancy complications, many complications rapidly become life-threatening and, in developing countries, women often deliver at home, far from emergency obstetric services; obstetrics deals with the care of women and their children during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postnatal period.
Why Was This Study Done?
It should be possible to reduce maternal deaths (and the deaths of babies during pregnancy, childbirth, and early life) in developing countries by ensuring that pregnant women are referred to emergency obstetric services quickly when the need arises. Unfortunately, in such countries referral to emergency obstetric care is beset with problems such as difficult geographical terrain, transport costs, lack of vehicles, and suboptimal location and distribution of health care facilities. In this systematic review (a study that uses predefined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic), the researchers assess the effectiveness of interventions designed to reduce the “phase II delay” in referral to emergency obstetric care in developing countries—the time it takes a woman to reach an appropriate health care facility once a problem has been recognized and the decision has been taken to seek care. Delays in diagnosis and the decision to seek care are phase I delays in referral, whereas delays in receiving care once a women reaches a health care facility are phase III delays.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 19 published studies that described 14 interventions designed to overcome phase II delays in emergency obstetric referral and that met their criteria for inclusion in their systematic review. About half of the interventions were organizational. That is, they were designed to overcome barriers to referral such as costs. Most of the remaining interventions were structural. That is, they involved the provision of, for example, ambulances and maternity waiting homes—placed close to a health care facility where women can stay during late pregnancy. Although seven studies provided data on maternal mortality, none showed a sustained, statistically significant reduction (a reduction unlikely to have occurred by chance) in maternal deaths. Four studies in South Asia in which communities generated funds for transport reduced neonatal deaths (deaths of babies soon after birth), but the only statistically significant effect of this community mobilization intervention was seen in India where neonatal deaths were halved. Three studies from sub-Saharan Africa reported that the introduction of maternity waiting homes reduced stillbirths but this reduction was only significant in one study. Finally, although referral interventions generally improved the utilization of health services, in one study the provision of bicycle ambulances to take women to the hospital reduced the proportion of women delivering in health facilities, probably because women felt that bicycle ambulances drew unwanted attention to them during labor and so preferred to stay at home.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that community mobilization interventions may reduce neonatal mortality and that maternity waiting rooms may reduce stillbirths. Importantly, they also highlight how referral interventions can have unexpected adverse effects. However, because the studies included in this systematic review included multiple interventions designed to reduce delays at several stages of the referral process, it is not possible to disentangle the contribution of each component of the intervention. Moreover, it is impossible at present to determine why (or even if) any of the interventions reduced maternal mortality. Thus, the researchers conclude, improved monitoring of interventions and better evaluation of outcomes is essential to inform the implementation of effective referral interventions, and more studies are needed to improve understanding of how referral interventions work.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) provides information on maternal mortality, including the WHO/UNICEF./UNFPA/World Bank 2008 country estimates of maternal mortality
The World Health Organization provides information on maternal health, including information about Millennium Development Goal 5, which aims to reduce maternal mortality (in several languages); the Millennium Development Goals, which were agreed by world leaders in 2000, are designed to eradicate extreme poverty worldwide by 2015
Immpact is a global research initiative for the evaluation of safe motherhood intervention strategies
Veil of Tears contains personal stories from Afghanistan about loss in childbirth; the non-governmental health development organization AMREF provides personal stories about maternal health in Africa
Maternal Death: The Avoidable Crisis is a briefing paper published by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in March 2012
PMCID: PMC3393680  PMID: 22807658

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