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1.  Alcohol misuse 
Clinical Evidence  2011;2011:1017.
Introduction
Alcohol use is a leading cause of mortality and morbidity internationally, and is ranked by the World Health Organization (WHO) as one of the top 5 risk factors for disease burden. Without treatment, approximately 16% of hazardous or harmful alcohol users will progress to more dependent patterns of alcohol consumption. This review covers interventions in hazardous or harmful, but not dependent, alcohol users.
Methods and outcomes
We conducted a systematic review and aimed to answer the following clinical questions: What are the effects of interventions in hazardous or harmful drinkers in the primary-care setting? What are the effects of interventions in hazardous or harmful drinkers in the emergency-department setting? We searched: Medline, Embase, The Cochrane Library, and other important databases up to September 2010 (Clinical Evidence reviews are updated periodically; please check our website for the most up-to-date version of this review). We included harms alerts from relevant organisations such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Results
We found 21 systematic reviews, RCTs, or observational studies that met our inclusion criteria. We performed a GRADE evaluation of the quality of evidence for interventions.
Conclusions
In this systematic review, we present information relating to the effectiveness and safety of the following interventions in primary care and in emergency departments: brief intervention (single or multiple session), universal screening plus brief interventions, and targeted screening plus brief interventions.
Key Points
Alcohol use is a leading cause of mortality and morbidity internationally, and is ranked by the WHO as one of the top 5 risk factors for disease burden. Without treatment, approximately 16% of hazardous or harmful alcohol users will progress to more dependent patterns of alcohol consumption.
This review covers interventions in hazardous or harmful (but not dependent) alcohol users. Hazardous alcohol consumption is defined as a pattern of alcohol consumption that increases the individual's risk of alcohol-related harm, but is not currently causing alcohol-related harm.Harmful alcohol consumption is a pattern of consumption likely to have already led to alcohol-related harm.
Single- or multiple-session brief intervention reduces alcohol consumption over 1 year in hazardous drinkers treated in the primary-care setting, but we don't know how it affects mortality.
Brief intervention (single or multiple session) is also effective at reducing alcohol consumption in people treated in the emergency department, although the evidence is not as strong.
Adding universal screening to brief intervention enhances its benefits when given in primary care. We found insufficient RCT evidence to assess whether universal screening and brief intervention is any more effective than usual care in emergency departments.We don't know whether targeted screening is effective, as we found no RCT evidence assessing its use in primary or emergency care.
PMCID: PMC3275317  PMID: 21426592
2.  Alcohol misuse 
Clinical Evidence  2009;2009:1017.
Introduction
Alcohol use is a leading cause of mortality and morbidity internationally, and is ranked by the World Health Organization (WHO) as one of the top five risk factors for disease burden. Without treatment, approximately 16% of hazardous or harmful alcohol users will progress to more dependent patterns of alcohol consumption. This review covers interventions in hazardous or harmful, but not dependent, alcohol users.
Methods and outcomes
We conducted a systematic review and aimed to answer the following clinical questions: What are the effects of interventions in hazardous or harmful drinkers in the primary-care setting? What are the effects of interventions in hazardous or harmful drinkers in the emergency-department setting? We searched: Medline, Embase, The Cochrane Library, and other important databases up to February 2009 (Clinical Evidence reviews are updated periodically; please check our website for the most up-to-date version of this review). We included harms alerts from relevant organisations such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Results
We found 18 systematic reviews, RCTs, or observational studies that met our inclusion criteria. We performed a GRADE evaluation of the quality of evidence for interventions.
Conclusions
In this systematic review, we present information relating to the effectiveness and safety of the following interventions in primary care and in emergency departments: brief intervention (single- or multiple-session); universal screening plus brief interventions; and targeted screening plus brief interventions.
Key Points
Alcohol use is a leading cause of mortality and morbidity internationally, and is ranked by the WHO as one of the top five risk factors for disease burden. Without treatment, approximately 16% of hazardous or harmful alcohol users will progress to more dependent patterns of alcohol consumption.
This review covers interventions in hazardous or harmful (but not dependent) alcohol users. Hazardous alcohol consumption is defined as a pattern of alcohol consumption that increases the individual's risk of alcohol-related harm, but is not currently causing alcohol-related harm.Harmful alcohol consumption is a pattern of consumption likely to have already led to alcohol-related harm.
Single- or multiple-session brief intervention reduces alcohol consumption over 1 year in hazardous drinkers treated in the primary-care setting, but we don't know how it affects mortality.
Brief intervention (single- or multiple-session) is also effective at reducing alcohol consumption in people treated in the emergency department, although the evidence is not as strong.
Adding universal screening to brief intervention enhances its benefits when given in primary care. We don't know how effectiveuniversal screening in emergency departments is, as we found no data.We don't know whether targeted screening is effective, as we found no data assessing its use in primary or emergency care.
PMCID: PMC2907792  PMID: 21718573
3.  Psychosocial Interventions for Alcohol Use Among Problem Drug Users: Protocol for a Feasibility Study in Primary Care 
JMIR Research Protocols  2013;2(2):e26.
Background
Alcohol use is an important issue among problem drug users. Although screening and brief intervention (SBI) are effective in reducing problem alcohol use in primary care, no research has examined this issue among problem drug users.
Objective
The objective of this study is to determine if a complex intervention including SBI for problem alcohol use among problem drug users is feasible and acceptable in practice. This study also aims to evaluate the effectiveness of the intervention in reducing the proportion of patients with problem alcohol use.
Methods
Psychosocial intervention for alcohol use among problem drug users (PINTA) is a pilot feasibility study of a complex intervention comprising SBI for problem alcohol use among problem drug users with cluster randomization at the level of general practice, integrated qualitative process evaluation, and involving general practices in two socioeconomically deprived regions. Practices (N=16) will be eligible to participate if they are registered to prescribe methadone and/or at least 10 patients of the practice are currently receiving addiction treatment. Patient must meet the following inclusion criteria to participate in this study: 18 years of age or older, receiving addiction treatment/care (eg, methadone), or known to be a problem drug user. This study is based on a complex intervention supporting SBI for problem alcohol use among problem drug users (experimental group) compared to an “assessment-only” control group. Control practices will be provided with a delayed intervention after follow-up. Primary outcomes of the study are feasibility and acceptability of the intervention to patients and practitioners. Secondary outcome includes the effectiveness of the intervention on care process (documented rates of SBI) and outcome (proportion of patients with problem alcohol use at the follow-up). A stratified random sampling method will be used to select general practices based on the level of training for providing addiction-related care and geographical area. In this study, general practitioners and practice staff, researchers, and trainers will not be blinded to treatment, but patients and remote randomizers will be unaware of the treatment.
Results
This study is ongoing and a protocol system is being developed for the study. This study may inform future research among the high-risk population of problem drug users by providing initial indications as to whether psychosocial interventions for problem alcohol use are feasible, acceptable, and also effective among problem drug users attending primary care.
Conclusions
This is the first study to examine the feasibility and acceptability of complex intervention in primary care to enhance alcohol SBI among problem drug users. Results of this study will inform future research among this high-risk population and guide policy and service development locally and internationally.
doi:10.2196/resprot.2678
PMCID: PMC3742410  PMID: 23912883
complex intervention; screening; brief intervention; alcohol; methadone maintenance; primary health care; general practice; substance-related disorders
4.  The effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of opportunistic screening and stepped care interventions for older hazardous alcohol users in primary care (AESOPS) – A randomised control trial protocol 
Background
There is a wealth of evidence regarding the detrimental impact of excessive alcohol consumption. In older populations excessive alcohol consumption is associated with increased risk of coronary heart disease, hypertension, stroke and a range of cancers. Alcohol consumption is also associated with an increased risk of falls, early onset of dementia and other cognitive deficits. Physiological changes that occur as part of the ageing process mean that older people experience alcohol related problems at lower consumption levels. There is a strong evidence base for the effectiveness of brief psychosocial interventions in reducing alcohol consumption in populations identified opportunistically in primary care settings. Stepped care interventions involve the delivery of more intensive interventions only to those in the population who fail to respond to less intensive interventions and provide a potentially resource efficient means of meeting the needs of this population.
Methods/design
The study design is a pragmatic prospective multi-centre two arm randomised controlled trial. The primary hypothesis is that stepped care interventions for older hazardous alcohol users reduce alcohol consumption compared with a minimal intervention at 12 months post randomisation. Potential participants are identified using the AUDIT questionnaire. Eligible and consenting participants are randomised with equal probability to either a minimal intervention or a three step treatment approach. The step treatment approach incorporates as step 1 behavioural change counselling, step 2 three sessions of motivational enhancement therapy and step 3 referral to specialist services. The primary outcome is measured using average standard drinks per day and secondary outcome measures include the Drinking Problems Index, health related quality of life and health utility. The study incorporates a comprehensive economic analysis to assess the relative cost-effectiveness of the interventions.
Discussion
The paper presents a protocol for the first pragmatic randomised controlled trial evaluating the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of stepped care interventions for older hazardous alcohol users in primary care.
Trial registration
ISRCTN52557360
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-8-129
PMCID: PMC2442836  PMID: 18549492
5.  Feasibility of a computer-assisted alcohol SBIRT program in an urban emergency department: patient and research staff perspectives 
Objectives
The study objective was to assess the feasibility of a computerized alcohol-screening interview (CASI) program to identify at-risk alcohol users among adult emergency department (ED) patients. The study aimed to evaluate the feasibility of implementing a computerized screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment (SBIRT) program within a busy urban ED setting, to report on accurate deployment of alcohol screening results, and to assess comprehension and satisfaction with CASI from both patient and research staff perspectives.
Methods
Research assistants (RAs) screened a convenience sample of medically stable ED patients. The RAs brought CASI to patients’ bedsides, and patients entered their own alcohol consumption data. The CASI intervention consisted of an alcohol use screening identification test, a personalized normative feedback profile, NIAAA low-risk drinking educational materials, and treatment referrals (when indicated).
Results
Five hundred seventeen patients were enrolled. The median age of participants was 37 years (range, 21-85 years); 37% were men, 62% were Hispanic, 7% were Caucasian, 30% were African American, and 2% were multiracial. Eighty percent reported regular use of computers at home. Eighty percent of patients approached consented to participate, and 99% of those who started CASI were able to complete it. Two percent of interviews were interrupted for medical tests and procedures, however, no patients required breaks from using CASI for not feeling well. The CASI program accurately provided alcohol risk education to patients 100% of the time. Thirty-two percent of patients in the sample screened positive for at-risk drinking. Sixty percent of patients reported that CASI increased their knowledge of safe drinking limits, 39% reported some likeliness to change their alcohol use, and 28% reported some intention to consult a health care professional about their alcohol use as a result of their screening results. Ninety-three percent reported CASI was easy to use, 93% felt comfortable receiving alcohol education via computer, and 89% liked using CASI. Ninety percent of patients correctly identified their alcohol risk level after participating in CASI. With regard to research staff experience, RAs needed to provide standby assistance to patients during <1% of CASI administrations and needed to troubleshoot computer issues in 4% of interviews. The RAs distributed the correct alcohol risk normative profiles to patients 97% of the time and provided patients with treatment referrals when indicated 81% of the time. The RAs rated patients as “not bothered at all” by using CASI 94% of the time.
Conclusions
This study demonstrates that an ED-based computerized alcohol screening program is both acceptable to patients and effective in educating patients about their alcohol risk level. Additionally, this study demonstrates that few logistical problems related to using computers for these interventions were experienced by research staff: in most cases, staff accurately deployed alcohol risk education to patients, and in all cases, the computer provided accurate education to patients. Computer-assisted SBIRT may represent a significant time-saving measure, allowing EDs to reach larger numbers of patients for alcohol intervention without causing undue clinical burden or interruptions to clinical care. Future studies with follow-up are needed to replicate these results and assess drinking reductions post-intervention.
doi:10.1186/1940-0640-8-2
PMCID: PMC3554507  PMID: 23324597
Computerized alcohol screening; Brief intervention; Emergency department; SBIRT
6.  The Effectiveness of Community Action in Reducing Risky Alcohol Consumption and Harm: A Cluster Randomised Controlled Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(3):e1001617.
In a cluster randomized controlled trial, Anthony Shakeshaft and colleagues measure the effectiveness of a multi-component community-based intervention for reducing alcohol-related harm.
Background
The World Health Organization, governments, and communities agree that community action is likely to reduce risky alcohol consumption and harm. Despite this agreement, there is little rigorous evidence that community action is effective: of the six randomised trials of community action published to date, all were US-based and focused on young people (rather than the whole community), and their outcomes were limited to self-report or alcohol purchase attempts. The objective of this study was to conduct the first non-US randomised controlled trial (RCT) of community action to quantify the effectiveness of this approach in reducing risky alcohol consumption and harms measured using both self-report and routinely collected data.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a cluster RCT comprising 20 communities in Australia that had populations of 5,000–20,000, were at least 100 km from an urban centre (population ≥ 100,000), and were not involved in another community alcohol project. Communities were pair-matched, and one member of each pair was randomly allocated to the experimental group. Thirteen interventions were implemented in the experimental communities from 2005 to 2009: community engagement; general practitioner training in alcohol screening and brief intervention (SBI); feedback to key stakeholders; media campaign; workplace policies/practices training; school-based intervention; general practitioner feedback on their prescribing of alcohol medications; community pharmacy-based SBI; web-based SBI; Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services support for SBI; Good Sports program for sports clubs; identifying and targeting high-risk weekends; and hospital emergency department–based SBI. Primary outcomes based on routinely collected data were alcohol-related crime, traffic crashes, and hospital inpatient admissions. Routinely collected data for the entire study period (2001–2009) were obtained in 2010. Secondary outcomes based on pre- and post-intervention surveys (n = 2,977 and 2,255, respectively) were the following: long-term risky drinking, short-term high-risk drinking, short-term risky drinking, weekly consumption, hazardous/harmful alcohol use, and experience of alcohol harm. At the 5% level of statistical significance, there was insufficient evidence to conclude that the interventions were effective in the experimental, relative to control, communities for alcohol-related crime, traffic crashes, and hospital inpatient admissions, and for rates of risky alcohol consumption and hazardous/harmful alcohol use. Although respondents in the experimental communities reported statistically significantly lower average weekly consumption (1.90 fewer standard drinks per week, 95% CI = −3.37 to −0.43, p = 0.01) and less alcohol-related verbal abuse (odds ratio = 0.58, 95% CI = 0.35 to 0.96, p = 0.04) post-intervention, the low survey response rates (40% and 24% for the pre- and post-intervention surveys, respectively) require conservative interpretation. The main limitations of this study are as follows: (1) that the study may have been under-powered to detect differences in routinely collected data outcomes as statistically significant, and (2) the low survey response rates.
Conclusions
This RCT provides little evidence that community action significantly reduces risky alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harms, other than potential reductions in self-reported average weekly consumption and experience of alcohol-related verbal abuse. Complementary legislative action may be required to more effectively reduce alcohol harms.
Trial registration
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12607000123448
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
People have consumed alcoholic beverages throughout history, but alcohol use is now an increasing global public health problem. According to the World Health Organization's 2010 Global Burden of Disease Study, alcohol use is the fifth leading risk factor (after high blood pressure and smoking) for disease and is responsible for 3.9% of the global disease burden. Alcohol use contributes to heart disease, liver disease, depression, some cancers, and many other health conditions. Alcohol also affects the well-being and health of people around those who drink, through alcohol-related crimes and road traffic crashes. The impact of alcohol use on disease and injury depends on the amount of alcohol consumed and the pattern of drinking. Most guidelines define long-term risky drinking as more than four drinks per day on average for men or more than two drinks per day for women (a “drink” is, roughly speaking, a can of beer or a small glass of wine), and short-term risky drinking (also called binge drinking) as seven or more drinks on a single occasion for men or five or more drinks on a single occasion for women. However, recent changes to the Australian guidelines acknowledge that a lower level of alcohol consumption is considered risky (with lifetime risky drinking defined as more than two drinks a day and binge drinking defined as more than four drinks on one occasion).
Why Was This Study Done?
In 2010, the World Health Assembly endorsed a global strategy to reduce the harmful use of alcohol. This strategy emphasizes the importance of community action–a process in which a community defines its own needs and determines the actions that are required to meet these needs. Although community action is highly acceptable to community members, few studies have looked at the effectiveness of community action in reducing risky alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harm. Here, the researchers undertake a cluster randomized controlled trial (the Alcohol Action in Rural Communities [AARC] project) to quantify the effectiveness of community action in reducing risky alcohol consumption and harms in rural communities in Australia. A cluster randomized trial compares outcomes in clusters of people (here, communities) who receive alternative interventions assigned through the play of chance.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers pair-matched 20 rural Australian communities according to the proportion of their population that was Aboriginal (rates of alcohol-related harm are disproportionately higher among Aboriginal individuals than among non-Aboriginal individuals in Australia; they are also higher among young people and males, but the proportions of these two groups across communities was comparable). They randomly assigned one member of each pair to the experimental group and implemented 13 interventions in these communities by negotiating with key individuals in each community to define and implement each intervention. Examples of interventions included general practitioner training in screening for alcohol use disorders and in implementing a brief intervention, and a school-based interactive session designed to reduce alcohol harm among young people. The researchers quantified the effectiveness of the interventions using routinely collected data on alcohol-related crime and road traffic crashes, and on hospital inpatient admissions for alcohol dependence or abuse (which were expected to increase in the experimental group if the intervention was effective because of more people seeking or being referred for treatment). They also examined drinking habits and experiences of alcohol-related harm, such as verbal abuse, among community members using pre- and post-intervention surveys. After implementation of the interventions, the rates of alcohol-related crime, road traffic crashes, and hospital admissions, and of risky and hazardous/harmful alcohol consumption (measured using a validated tool called the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test) were not statistically significantly different in the experimental and control communities (a difference in outcomes that is not statistically significantly different can occur by chance). However, the reported average weekly consumption of alcohol was 20% lower in the experimental communities after the intervention than in the control communities (equivalent to 1.9 fewer standard drinks per week per respondent) and there was less alcohol-related verbal abuse post-intervention in the experimental communities than in the control communities.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings provide little evidence that community action reduced risky alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harms in rural Australian communities. Although there was some evidence of significant reductions in self-reported weekly alcohol consumption and in experiences of alcohol-related verbal abuse, these findings must be interpreted cautiously because they are based on surveys with very low response rates. A larger or differently designed study might provide statistically significant evidence for the effectiveness of community action in reducing risky alcohol consumption. However, given their findings, the researchers suggest that legislative approaches that are beyond the control of individual communities, such as alcohol taxation and restrictions on alcohol availability, may be required to effectively reduce alcohol harms. In other words, community action alone may not be the most effective way to reduce alcohol-related harm.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001617.
The World Health Organization provides detailed information about alcohol; its fact sheet on alcohol includes information about the global strategy to reduce the harmful use of alcohol; the Global Information System on Alcohol and Health provides further information about alcohol, including information on control policies around the world
The US National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has information about alcohol and its effects on health
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a website on alcohol and public health that includes information on the health risks of excessive drinking
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides detailed information about drinking and alcohol, including information on the risks of drinking too much, tools for calculating alcohol consumption, and personal stories about alcohol use problems
MedlinePlus provides links to many other resources on alcohol
More information about the Alcohol Action in Rural Communities project is available
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001617
PMCID: PMC3949675  PMID: 24618831
7.  Impact of system-level changes and training on alcohol screening and brief intervention in a family medicine residency clinic: a pilot study 
Background
Although screening and brief intervention (SBI) are effective in reducing unhealthy alcohol use, major challenges exist in implementing clinician-delivered SBI in primary care settings. This 2006–2007 pilot study describes the impact of systems changes and booster trainings designed to increase SBI rates in a family medicine residency clinic which annually screened adults with a self-administered AUDIT-C questionnaire and used paper prompts to encourage physician interventions for patients with positive screens.
Methods
Investigators added the Single Alcohol Screening Question (SASQ) to nursing vital signs forms, added a checkbox for documenting brief interventions to the clinicians’ outpatient encounter form, and conducted one-hour nurse and clinician booster trainings. Impact was measured using chart reviews conducted before implementing systems changes, then six weeks and six months post-implementation.
Results
At all three time points screening rates using AUDIT-C plus SASQ exceeded 90%, however AUDIT-C screening decreased to 85% after 6 months (p=.025). Identification of unhealthy alcohol users increased from 4% to 22.9% at six weeks and 18.8% at six months (p=.002) using both screens. Nursing vital signs screening using the SASQ reached 71.4% six weeks after implementation but decreased to 45.5% at six months. Changes in clinician brief intervention rates did not achieve statistical significance.
Conclusions
This is the second study reporting sustained primary care alcohol screening rates of more than 90%. Screening patients with SASQ and/or AUDIT-C identified a higher percentage of patients with unhealthy alcohol use. Dissemination of effective strategies for identifying unhealthy alcohol users should continue, while future research should focus on identifying more effective strategies for increasing intervention rates.
doi:10.1186/1747-597X-8-9
PMCID: PMC3599914  PMID: 23448579
Alcohol screening; Medical education; Resident training; Brief intervention; Chart review
8.  From Efficacy to Effectiveness and Beyond: What Next for Brief Interventions in Primary Care? 
Background: Robust evidence supports the effectiveness of screening and brief alcohol interventions in primary healthcare. However, lack of understanding about their “active ingredients” and concerns over the extent to which current approaches remain faithful to their original theoretical roots has led some to demand a cautious approach to future roll-out pending further research. Against this background, this paper provides a timely overview of the development of the brief alcohol intervention evidence base to assess the extent to which it has achieved the four key levels of intervention research: efficacy, effectiveness, implementation, and demonstration.
Methods: Narrative overview based on (1) the results of a review of systematic reviews and meta-analyses of the effectiveness of brief alcohol intervention in primary healthcare and (2) synthesis of the findings of key additional primary studies on the improvement and evaluation of brief alcohol intervention implementation in routine primary healthcare.
Results: The brief intervention field seems to constitute an almost perfect example of the evaluation of a complex intervention. Early evaluations of screening and brief intervention approaches included more tightly controlled efficacy trials and have been followed by more pragmatic trials of effectiveness in routine clinical practice. Most recently, attention has shifted to dissemination, implementation, and wider-scale roll-out. However, delivery in routine primary health remains inconsistent, with an identified knowledge gap around how to successfully embed brief alcohol intervention approaches in mainstream care, and as yet unanswered questions concerning what specific intervention component prompt the positive changes in alcohol consumption.
Conclusion: Both the efficacy and effectiveness of brief alcohol interventions have been comprehensively demonstrated, and intervention effects seem replicable and stable over time, and across different study contexts. Thus, while unanswered questions remain, given the positive evidence amassed to date, research efforts should maintain a continued focus on promoting sustained implementation of screening and brief alcohol intervention approaches in primary care to ensure that those who might benefit from screening and brief alcohol interventions actually receive such support.
doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2014.00113
PMCID: PMC4147417  PMID: 25221524
brief alcohol intervention; efficacy; effectiveness; implementation; research needs; secondary prevention; primary care
9.  An early evaluation of implementation of brief intervention for unhealthy alcohol use in the US Veterans Health Administration 
Addiction (Abingdon, England)  2014;109(9):1472-1481.
Aims
The US Veterans Health Administration [Veterans Affairs (VA)] used performance measures and electronic clinical reminders to implement brief intervention for unhealthy alcohol use. We evaluated whether documented brief intervention was associated with subsequent changes in drinking during early implementation.
Design
Observational, retrospective cohort study using secondary clinical and administrative data.
Setting
Thirty VA facilities.
Participants
Outpatients who screened positive for unhealthy alcohol use [Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test Consumption (AUDIT-C ≥ 5)] in the 6 months after the brief intervention performance measure (n = 22 214) and had follow-up screening 9–15 months later (n = 6210; 28%).
Measurements
Multi-level logistic regression estimated the adjusted prevalence of resolution of unhealthy alcohol use (follow-up AUDIT-C <5 with ≥2 point reduction) for patients with and without documented brief intervention (documented advice to reduce or abstain from drinking).
Findings
Among 6210 patients with follow-up alcohol screening, 1751 (28%) had brief intervention and 2922 (47%) resolved unhealthy alcohol use at follow-up. Patients with documented brief intervention were older and more likely to have other substance use disorders, mental health conditions, poor health and more severe unhealthy alcohol use than those without (P-values < 0.05). Adjusted prevalences of resolution were 47% [95% confidence interval (CI) = 42–52%] and 48% (95% CI = 42–54%) for patients with and without documented brief intervention, respectively (P = 0.50).
Conclusions
During early implementation of brief intervention in the US Veterans Health Administration, documented brief intervention was not associated with subsequent changes in drinking among outpatients with unhealthy alcohol use and repeat alcohol screening.
doi:10.1111/add.12600
PMCID: PMC4257468  PMID: 24773590
Alcohol; brief intervention; implementation; unhealthy alcohol use; veterans
10.  Alcohol Counseling 
OBJECTIVE
To assess the use of a brief provider-delivered alcohol counseling intervention of 5 to 10 minutes with high-risk drinking patients by primary care providers trained in the counseling intervention and provided with an office support system.
DESIGN
A group randomized study design was used. Office sites were randomized to either a usual care or special intervention condition, within which physicians and patients were nested. The unit of analysis was the patient.
SETTING
Primary care internal medicine practices affiliated with an academic medical center.
PARTICIPANTS
Twenty-nine providers were randomized by practice site to receive training and an office support system to provide an alcohol counseling special intervention or to continue to provide usual care.
INTERVENTION
Special intervention providers received 2 1/2 hours of training in a brief alcohol-counseling intervention and were then supported by an office system that screened patients, cued providers to intervene, and made patient education materials available as tip sheets.
MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS
Implementation of the counseling steps was measured by patient exit interviews (PEI) immediately following the patient visit. The interval between the date of training and the date of the PEI ranged from 6 to 32 months. Special intervention providers were twice as likely as usual care providers to discuss alcohol use with their patients. They carried out every step of the counseling sequence significantly more often than did usual care providers (p < .001). This intervention effect persisted over the 32 months of follow-up.
CONCLUSIONS
Physicians and other health-care providers trained in a brief provider-delivered alcohol intervention will counsel their high-risk drinking patients when cued to do so and supported by a primary care office system.
doi:10.1046/j.1525-1497.1998.00206.x
PMCID: PMC1500899  PMID: 9798817
alcoholism; problem drinking; counseling
11.  Patient and practitioner characteristics predict brief alcohol intervention in primary care. 
BACKGROUND: The effectiveness of an evidence-based health care intervention depends on it being delivered consistently to appropriate patients. Brief alcohol intervention is known to be effective at reducing excessive drinking and its concomitant health and social problems. However, a recent implementation trial reported partial delivery of brief alcohol intervention by general practitioners (GPs) which is likely to have reduced its impact. AIM: To investigate patient-practitioner characteristics influencing brief alcohol intervention in primary care. DESIGN OF STUDY: Cross-sectional analysis of 12,814 completed Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) screening questionnaires. SETTING: Eighty-four GPs who had implemented a brief alcohol intervention programme in a previous trial based in the Northeast of England. METHOD: GPs were requested to screen all adults (aged over 16 years) presenting to their surgery and follow a structured protocol to give a brief intervention (five minutes of advice plus an information booklet) to all 'risk' drinkers. Anonymized carbon copies of the screening questionnaire were collected from all practices after a three-month implementation period. RESULTS: Although AUDIT identified 4080 'risk' drinkers, only 2043 (50%) received brief intervention. Risk drinkers that were most likely to receive brief intervention were males (58%), unemployed (61%), and technically-trained patients (55%). Risk drinkers that were least likely to receive brief intervention were females (44%), students (38%), and university educated patients (46%). Logistic regression modelling showed that patients' risk status was the most influential predictor of brief intervention. Also, GPs' experience of relevant training and longer average practice consultations predicted brief intervention. However, personal characteristics relating to patients and GPs also predicted brief intervention in routine practice. CONCLUSION: Interpersonal factors relating to patients and practitioners contributed to the selective provision of brief alcohol intervention in primary care. Ways should be found to remedy this situation or the impact of this evidence-based intervention may be reduced when implemented in routine practice.
PMCID: PMC1314128  PMID: 11677706
12.  Problem alcohol use among problem drug users in primary care: a qualitative study of what patients think about screening and treatment 
BMC Family Practice  2013;14:98.
Background
Problem alcohol use is common and associated with considerable adverse outcomes among patients who attend primary care in Ireland and other European countries for opiate substitution treatment. This paper aims to describe patients’ experience of, and attitude towards, screening and therapeutic interventions for problem alcohol use in primary care.
Methods
This qualitative study recruited problem drug users (N = 28) from primary care based methadone programmes in the Ireland’s Eastern region, using a stratified sampling matrix to include size of general practice and geographical area. Semi-structured interviews were conducted and analysed using thematic analysis, and audited by a third reviewer.
Results
We identified three overarching themes relevant to the purpose of this paper: (1) patients’ experience of, and (2) attitude towards, screening and treatment for problem alcohol use in primary care, as well as their (3) views on service improvement. While most patients reported being screened for problem alcohol use at initial assessment, few recalled routine screening or treatment. Among the barriers and enablers to screening and treatment, patients highlighted the importance of the practitioner-patient relationship in helping them address the issue. Nevertheless, patients felt that healthcare professionals should be more proactive in the management of problem alcohol use at a primary care level and that primary care can play an important role in their treatment.
Conclusions
Problem alcohol use is an important challenge in the care of problem drug users. While primary care is well placed to address this issue, little data has reported on this topic. The development of interventions which promote screening and brief interventions in practice are likely to benefit this at-risk group and further research and education, that help achieve this goal, are a priority. Strategies such as dissemination of clinical guidelines, educational videos, academic detailing and practice visits, should be explored.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-14-98
PMCID: PMC3720559  PMID: 23849081
Alcohol; Brief intervention; Illicit drugs; Primary health care; Opioids; Qualitative interviews; Screening; Methadone
13.  Screening and brief interventions for hazardous and harmful alcohol use among patients with active tuberculosis attending primary public care clinics in South Africa: results from a cluster randomized controlled trial 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:699.
Background
In 2008 the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that South Africa had the highest tuberculosis (TB) incidence in the world. This high incidence rate is linked to a number of factors, including HIV co-infection and alcohol use disorders. The diagnosis and treatment package for TB and HIV co-infection is relatively well established in South Africa. However, because alcohol use disorders may present more insidiously, making it difficult to diagnose, those patients with active TB and misusing alcohol are not easily cured from TB. With this in mind, the primary purpose of this cluster randomized controlled trial was to provide screening for alcohol misuse and to test the effectiveness of brief interventions in reducing alcohol intake in those patients with active TB found to be misusing alcohol in primary public health care clinics in three districts in South Africa.
Methods
Within each of the three provinces targeted, one district with the highest TB burden was selected. Furthermore, 14 primary health care facilities with the highest TB caseload in each district were selected. In each district, 7 of the 14 (50%) clinics were randomly assigned to a control arm and another 7 of the 14 (50%) clinics assigned to intervention arm. At the clinic level systematic sampling was used to recruit newly diagnosed and retreatment TB patients. Those consenting were screened for alcohol misuse using the Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test (AUDIT). Patients who screened positive for alcohol misuse over a 6-month period were given either a brief intervention based on the Information-Motivation-Behavioural Skills (IMB) Model or an alcohol use health education leaflet.
Results
Of the 4882 tuberculosis patients screened for alcohol and agreed to participate in the trial, 1196 (24.6%) tested positive for the AUDIT. Among the 853 (71%) patients who also attended the 6-month follow-up session, the frequency of positive screening results at baseline/follow-up were 100/21.2% for the AUDIT (P < 0.001) for the control group and 100/16.8% (P < 0.001) for the intervention group. The intervention effect on the AUDIT score was statistically not significant. The intervention effect was also not significant for hazardous or harmful drinkers and alcohol dependent drinkers (AUDIT: 7–40), alcohol dependent drinkers and heavy episodic drinking, while the control group effect was significant for hazardous drinkers (AUDIT: 7–19) (P = 0.035).
Conclusion
The results suggest that alcohol screening and the provision of a health education leaflet on sensible drinking performed at the beginning of anti-tuberculosis treatment in public primary care settings may be effective in reducing alcohol consumption.
Trial registrations
PACTR201105000297151
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-699
PMCID: PMC3733870  PMID: 23902931
14.  Screening and brief interventions for hazardous and harmful alcohol use in primary care: a cluster randomised controlled trial protocol 
BMC Public Health  2009;9:287.
Background
There have been many randomized controlled trials of screening and brief alcohol intervention in primary care. Most trials have reported positive effects of brief intervention, in terms of reduced alcohol consumption in excessive drinkers. Despite this considerable evidence-base, key questions remain unanswered including: the applicability of the evidence to routine practice; the most efficient strategy for screening patients; and the required intensity of brief intervention in primary care. This pragmatic factorial trial, with cluster randomization of practices, will evaluate the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of different models of screening to identify hazardous and harmful drinkers in primary care and different intensities of brief intervention to reduce excessive drinking in primary care patients.
Methods and design
GPs and nurses from 24 practices across the North East (n = 12), London and South East (n = 12) of England will be recruited. Practices will be randomly allocated to one of three intervention conditions: a leaflet-only control group (n = 8); brief structured advice (n = 8); and brief lifestyle counselling (n = 8). To test the relative effectiveness of different screening methods all practices will also be randomised to either a universal or targeted screening approach and to use either a modified single item (M-SASQ) or FAST screening tool. Screening randomisation will incorporate stratification by geographical area and intervention condition. During the intervention stage of the trial, practices in each of the three arms will recruit at least 31 hazardous or harmful drinkers who will receive a short baseline assessment followed by brief intervention. Thus there will be a minimum of 744 patients recruited into the trial.
Discussion
The trial will evaluate the impact of screening and brief alcohol intervention in routine practice; thus its findings will be highly relevant to clinicians working in primary care in the UK. There will be an intention to treat analysis of study outcomes at 6 and 12 months after intervention. Analyses will include patient measures (screening result, weekly alcohol consumption, alcohol-related problems, public service use and quality of life) and implementation measures from practice staff (the acceptability and feasibility of different models of brief intervention.) We will also examine organisational factors associated with successful implementation.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN06145674.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-9-287
PMCID: PMC2734851  PMID: 19664255
15.  Screening and brief interventions for hazardous alcohol use in accident and emergency departments: a randomised controlled trial protocol 
Background
There is a wealth of evidence regarding the detrimental impact of excessive alcohol consumption on the physical, psychological and social health of the population. There also exists a substantial evidence base for the efficacy of brief interventions aimed at reducing alcohol consumption across a range of healthcare settings. Primary research conducted in emergency departments has reinforced the current evidence regarding the potential effectiveness and cost-effectiveness. Within this body of evidence there is marked variation in the intensity of brief intervention delivered, from very minimal interventions to more intensive behavioural or lifestyle counselling approaches. Further the majority of primary research has been conducted in single centre and there is little evidence of the wider issues of generalisability and implementation of brief interventions across emergency departments.
Methods/design
The study design is a prospective pragmatic factorial cluster randomised controlled trial. Individual Emergency Departments (ED) (n = 9) are randomised with equal probability to a combination of screening tool (M-SASQ vs FAST vs SIPS-PAT) and an intervention (Minimal intervention vs Brief advice vs Brief lifestyle counselling). The primary hypothesis is that brief lifestyle counselling delivered by an Alcohol Health Worker (AHW) is more effective than Brief Advice or a minimal intervention delivered by ED staff. Secondary hypotheses address whether short screening instruments are more acceptable and as efficient as longer screening instruments and the cost-effectiveness of screening and brief interventions in ED. Individual participants will be followed up at 6 and 12 months after consent. The primary outcome measure is performance using a gold-standard screening test (AUDIT). Secondary outcomes include; quantity and frequency of alcohol consumed, alcohol-related problems, motivation to change, health related quality of life and service utilisation.
Discussion
This paper presents a protocol for a large multi-centre pragmatic factorial cluster randomised trial to evaluate the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of screening and brief interventions for hazardous alcohol users attending emergency departments.
Trial Registration
ISRCTN 93681536
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-9-114
PMCID: PMC2712466  PMID: 19575791
16.  Integrated Management of Physician-delivered Alcohol Care for Tuberculosis Patients (IMPACT): Design and Implementation 
Background
While the integration of alcohol screening, treatment and referral in primary care and other medical settings in the U.S. and world-wide has been recognized as a key health care priority, it is not routinely done. In spite of the high co-occurrence and excess mortality associated with alcohol use disorders (AUDs) among individuals with tuberculosis (TB), there are no studies evaluating effectiveness of integrating alcohol care into routine treatment for this disorder.
Methods
We designed and implemented a randomized controlled trial (RCT) to determine the effectiveness of integrating pharmacotherapy and behavioral treatments for AUDs into routine medical care for TB in the Tomsk Oblast Tuberculosis Service (TOTBS) in Tomsk, Russia. Eligible patients are diagnosed with alcohol abuse or dependence, are newly diagnosed with TB and initiating treatment in the TOTBS with Directly Observed Therapy-Short Course (DOTS) for TB. Utilizing a factorial design, the Integrated Management of Physician-delivered Alcohol Care for Tuberculosis Patients (IMPACT) study randomizes eligible patients who sign informed consent into one of four study arms: (1) Oral Naltrexone + Brief Behavioral Compliance Enhancement Therapy (BBCET) + treatment as usual (TAU), (2) Brief Counseling Intervention (BCI) + TAU, (3) Naltrexone + BBCET + BCI + TAU, or (4) TAU alone.
Results
Utilizing an iterative, collaborative approach, a multi-disciplinary U.S. and Russian team has implemented a model of alcohol management that is culturally appropriate to the patient and TB physician community in Russia. Implementation to date has achieved the integration of routine alcohol screening into TB care in Tomsk; an ethnographic assessment of knowledge, attitudes and practices of AUD management among TB physicians in Tomsk; translation and cultural adaptation of the BCI to Russia and the TB setting; and training and certification of TB physicians to deliver oral naltrexone and brief counseling interventions for alcohol abuse and dependence as part of routine TB care. The study is successfully enrolling eligible subjects in the RCT to evaluate the relationship of integrating effective pharmacotherapy and brief behavioral intervention on TB and alcohol outcomes, as well as reduction in HIV risk behaviors.
Conclusions
The IMPACT study utilizes an innovative approach to adapt two effective therapies for treatment of alcohol use disorders to the TB clinical services setting in the Tomsk Oblast, Siberia, Russia and to train TB physicians to deliver state of the art alcohol pharmacotherapy and behavioral treatments as an integrated part of routine TB care. The proposed treatment strategy could be applied elsewhere in Russia and in other settings where TB control is jeopardized by AUDs. If demonstrated to be effective, this model of integrating alcohol interventions into routine TB care has the potential for expanded applicability to other chronic co-occurring infectious and other medical conditions seen in medical care settings.
doi:10.1111/j.1530-0277.2009.01094.x
PMCID: PMC2898509  PMID: 19930235
Alcohol use disorders; treatment; tuberculosis; naltrexone; brief counseling intervention
17.  Evaluation of California's Alcohol and Drug Screening and Brief Intervention Project for Emergency Department Patients 
Introduction: Visits to settings such as emergency departments (EDs) may present a “teachable moment” in that a patient may be more open to feedback and suggestions regarding their risky alcohol and illicit drug-use behaviors. Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) is an 'opportunistic' public health approach that targets low-risk users, in addition to those already dependent on alcohol and/or drugs. SBIRT programs provide patients with comprehensive screening and assessments, and deliver interventions of appropriate intensity to reduce risks related to alcohol and drug use.
Methods: This study used a single group pre-post test design to assess the effect of the California SBIRT service program (i.e., CASBIRT) on 6 substance-use outcomes (past-month prevalence and number of days of binge drinking, illegal drug use, and marijuana use). Trained bilingual/bicultural Health Educators attempted to screen all adult patients in 12 EDs/trauma centers (regardless of the reason for the patient's visit) using a short instrument, and then delivered a brief motivational intervention matched to the patient's risk level. A total of 2,436 randomly selected patients who screened positive for alcohol and/or drug use consented to be in a 6-month telephone follow-up interview. Because of the high loss to follow-up rate, we used an intention-to-treat approach for the data analysis.
Results: Results of generalized linear mixed models showed modest reductions in all 6 drug-and alcohol-use outcomes. Men (versus women), those at relatively higher risk status (versus lower risk), and those with only one substance of misuse (versus both alcohol and illicit drug misuse) tended to show more positive change.
Conclusion: These results suggest that SBIRT services provided in acute care settings are associated with modest changes in self-reported recent alcohol and illicit drug use.
doi:10.5811/westjem.2012.9.11551
PMCID: PMC3656708  PMID: 23687546
18.  Screening and brief interventions for hazardous and harmful alcohol use among patients with active tuberculosis attending primary care clinics in South Africa: a cluster randomized controlled trial protocol 
BMC Public Health  2011;11:394.
Background
In 2008 the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that South Africa had the highest tuberculosis (TB) incidence in the world. This high incidence rate is linked to a number of factors, including HIV co-infection and alcohol use disorders. The diagnosis and treatment package for TB and HIV co-infection is relatively well established in South Africa. However, because alcohol use disorders may present more insidiously, making it difficult to diagnose, those patients with active TB and misusing alcohol are not easily cured from TB. With this in mind, the primary purpose of this cluster randomized controlled trial is to provide screening for alcohol misuse and to test the efficacy of brief interventions in reducing alcohol intake in those patients with active TB found to be misusing alcohol in primary health care clinics in three provinces in South Africa.
Methods/Design
Within each of the three selected health districts with the highest TB burden in South Africa, 14 primary health care clinics with the highest TB caseloads will be selected. Those agreeing to participate will be stratified according to TB treatment caseload and the type of facility (clinic or community health centre). Within strata from 14 primary care facilities, 7 will be randomly selected into intervention and 7 to control study clinics (42 clinics, 21 intervention clinics and 21 control clinics). At the clinic level systematic sampling will be used to recruit newly diagnosed TB patients. Those consenting will be screened for alcohol misuse using the AUDIT. Patients who screen positive for alcohol misuse over a 6-month period will be given either a brief intervention based on the Information-Motivation-Behavioural Skills (IMB) Model or an alcohol use health education leaflet.
A total sample size of 520 is expected.
Discussion
The trial will evaluate the impact of alcohol screening and brief interventions for patients with active TB in primary care settings in South Africa. The findings will impact public health and will enable the health ministry to formulate policy related to comprehensive treatment for TB and alcohol misuse, which will result in reduction in alcohol use and ultimately improve the TB cure rates.
Trial registration number
PACTR: PACTR201105000297151
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-394
PMCID: PMC3120685  PMID: 21615934
19.  Health on the web: randomised trial of work-based online screening and brief intervention for hazardous and harmful drinking 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:505.
Background
Alcohol misuse is a significant international public health problem. Screening and brief intervention (SBI) in primary care reduces alcohol consumption by about 15 – 30%, sustained over 12 months in hazardous or harmful drinkers but implementation has proved difficult leading to growing interest in exploring the effectiveness of SBI in other settings, including the workplace. Computerised interventions for alcohol misuse can be as effective as traditional face-to-face interventions and may have advantages, including anonymity, convenience and availability.
Methods/design
Individually randomised controlled trial to determine the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of offering online screening and brief intervention for alcohol misuse in a workplace. Participants: adults (aged 18 or over) employed by participating employers scoring 5 or more on a three item screen for alcohol misuse (the AUDIT-C) indicating possible hazardous or harmful alcohol consumption, recruited through the offer of an online health check providing screening for a range of health behaviours with personalised feedback. Participants who accept the health check and score 5 or more on the alcohol screen will be randomised to receiving immediate feedback on their alcohol consumption and access to an online intervention offering support in reducing alcohol consumption (Down Your Drink) or delayed feedback and access to Down Your Drink after completion of follow-up data at three months. All employees who take the online health check will receive personalised feedback on other screened health behaviours including diet, physical activity, smoking, and body mass index. The primary outcome is alcohol consumption in the past week at three months; secondary outcomes are the AUDIT, EQ-5D, days off work, number and duration of hospital admissions, costs and use of the intervention. A sample size of 1,472 participants (736 in each arm) provides 90% power with 5% significance to determine a 20% reduction in alcohol consumption. Outcomes between groups at three months will be compared following the intention to treat principle and economic analyses will follow NICE guidance.
Discussion
This innovative design avoids recruitment bias by not mentioning alcohol in the invitation and avoids reactivity of assessment by not collecting baseline data on alcohol consumption.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-505
PMCID: PMC3671166  PMID: 23706155
Alcohol-related disorders; Alcohol; Screening and brief intervention; Internet; Randomised; Controlled trial; Workplace; Health promotion
20.  Feasibility and acceptability of a novel, computerized screening and brief intervention (SBI) for alcohol and sweetened beverage use in pregnancy 
Background
Recommended screening and brief intervention (SBI) for alcohol use during pregnancy is impeded by high patient loads and limited resources in public health settings. We evaluated the feasibility, acceptability and validity of a new self-administered, single-session, bilingual, computerized Screening and Brief Intervention (SBI) program for alcohol and sugar sweetened beverage (SSB) use in pregnancy.
Methods
We developed and tested the computerized SBI program at a public health clinic with 290 pregnant women. Feasibility, acceptability, and validity measures were included in the program which had several modules, including those on demographics, health and beverage use. Time to complete the program and user experience items were used to determine program feasibility and acceptability. Validity analyses compared proportions of prenatal alcohol use identified by the program versus in-person screening by clinic staff.
Results
Most program users (87%, n = 251) completed the entire program; 91% (n = 263) completed the key screening and brief intervention modules. Most users also completed the program in ten to fifteen minutes. Program users reported that the program was easy to use (97%), they learned something new (88%), and that they would share what they learned with others (83%) and with their doctors or clinic staff (76%). Program acceptability did not differ by age, education, or type of beverage intervention received. The program identified alcohol use in pregnancy among 21% of users, a higher rate than the 13% (p < .01) found via screening by clinic staff.
Conclusions
Computerized Screening and Brief Intervention for alcohol and SSB use in public health clinics is feasible and acceptable to English and Spanish speaking pregnant women and can efficiently identify prenatal alcohol use.
doi:10.1186/s12884-014-0379-x
PMCID: PMC4255428  PMID: 25421637
Screening and brief intervention; Alcohol; Sugar sweetened beverages
21.  Screening and brief intervention for excessive alcohol use: qualitative interview study of the experiences of general practitioners 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2002;325(7369):870.
Objective
To explore the suitability of a screening based intervention for excessive alcohol use by describing the experiences of general practitioners who tried such an intervention in their everyday practice.
Design
Qualitative interviews with general practitioners who had participated in a pragmatic study of a combined programme of screening and a brief intervention for excessive alcohol use. Doctors were interviewed either individually or in focus groups. A computer based, descriptive, phenomenological method was used to directly analyse the digitally recorded interviews.
Setting and participants
24 of 39 general practitioners in four Danish counties who volunteered to take part in the pragmatic study were interviewed.
Results
The doctors were surprised at how difficult it was to establish rapport with the patients who had a positive result on the screening and to ensure compliance with the intervention. Although the doctors considered the doctor-patient relationship robust enough to sustain targeting of alcohol use, they often failed to follow up on initial interventions, and some expressed a lack of confidence in their ability to counsel patients effectively on lifestyle issues. The doctors questioned the rationale of screening in young drinkers who may grow out of excessive drinking behaviour. The programme needed considerable resources, and it interrupted the natural course of consultations and was inflexible. The doctors could not recommend the screening and brief intervention programme, although they thought it important to counsel their patients on drinking.
Conclusions
Screening for excessive alcohol use created more problems than it solved for the participating doctors. The results underline the value of carrying out pragmatic studies on the suitability of seemingly efficacious healthcare programmes.
What is already known on this topicEfficacy studies have shown that in ideal conditions a brief intervention in primary care can lower alcohol consumptionHealth authorities recommend the implementation of screening for excessive alcohol use and a brief intervention to modify drinking behaviour, but such screening and brief intervention programmes have not yet proved to be successfulWhat this study addsGeneral practitioners who have tried a screening and brief intervention programme in their practice find the extra workload onerous and have problems in establishing rapport with excessive drinkers located by screeningThe programme disrupts normal patterns of work and cooperation in the general practice setting while failing to detect and deal with some problem drinkers
PMCID: PMC129636  PMID: 12386040
22.  Online Alcohol Interventions: A Systematic Review 
Background
There has been a significant increase in the availability of online programs for alcohol problems. A systematic review of the research evidence underpinning these programs is timely.
Objectives
Our objective was to review the efficacy of online interventions for alcohol misuse. Systematic searches of Medline, PsycINFO, Web of Science, and Scopus were conducted for English abstracts (excluding dissertations) published from 1998 onward. Search terms were: (1) Internet, Web*; (2) online, computer*; (3) alcohol*; and (4) E\effect*, trial*, random* (where * denotes a wildcard). Forward and backward searches from identified papers were also conducted. Articles were included if (1) the primary intervention was delivered and accessed via the Internet, (2) the intervention focused on moderating or stopping alcohol consumption, and (3) the study was a randomized controlled trial of an alcohol-related screen, assessment, or intervention.
Results
The literature search initially yielded 31 randomized controlled trials (RCTs), 17 of which met inclusion criteria. Of these 17 studies, 12 (70.6%) were conducted with university students, and 11 (64.7%) specifically focused on at-risk, heavy, or binge drinkers. Sample sizes ranged from 40 to 3216 (median 261), with 12 (70.6%) studies predominantly involving brief personalized feedback interventions. Using published data, effect sizes could be extracted from 8 of the 17 studies. In relation to alcohol units per week or month and based on 5 RCTs where a measure of alcohol units per week or month could be extracted, differential effect sizes to posttreatment ranged from 0.02 to 0.81 (mean 0.42, median 0.54). Pre-post effect sizes for brief personalized feedback interventions ranged from 0.02 to 0.81, and in 2 multi-session modularized interventions, a pre-post effect size of 0.56 was obtained in both. Pre-post differential effect sizes for peak blood alcohol concentrations (BAC) ranged from 0.22 to 0.88, with a mean effect size of 0.66.
Conclusions
The available evidence suggests that users can benefit from online alcohol interventions and that this approach could be particularly useful for groups less likely to access traditional alcohol-related services, such as women, young people, and at-risk users. However, caution should be exercised given the limited number of studies allowing extraction of effect sizes, the heterogeneity of outcome measures and follow-up periods, and the large proportion of student-based studies. More extensive RCTs in community samples are required to better understand the efficacy of specific online alcohol approaches, program dosage, the additive effect of telephone or face-to-face interventions, and effective strategies for their dissemination and marketing.
doi:10.2196/jmir.1479
PMCID: PMC3057310  PMID: 21169175
Alcohol; drugs; Internet; physical health; website interactivity; online treatment; online information
23.  Screening and Brief Intervention for Unhealthy Drug Use: Little or No Efficacy 
Unhealthy drug use ranges from use that risks health harms through severe drug use disorders. This narrative review addresses whether screening and brief intervention (SBI), efficacious for risky alcohol use, has efficacy for reducing other drug use and consequences. Brief intervention among those seeking help shows some promise. Screening tools have been validated though most are neither brief nor simple enough for use in general health settings. Several randomized trials have tested the efficacy of brief intervention for unhealthy drug use identified by screening in general health settings (i.e., in people not seeking help for their drug use). Substantial evidence now suggests that efficacy is limited or non-existent. Reasons likely include a range of actual and perceived severity (or lack of severity), concomitant unhealthy alcohol use and comorbid mental health conditions, and the wide range of types of unhealthy drug use (e.g., from marijuana, to prescription drugs, to heroin). Although brief intervention may have some efficacy for unhealthy drug users seeking help, the model of SBI that has effects in primary care settings on risky alcohol use may not be efficacious for other drug use.
doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2014.00121
PMCID: PMC4151000  PMID: 25228887
screening and brief intervention; unhealthy drug use; illicit drug; efficacy; randomized trials; counseling; identification; primary care
24.  Alcohol Use and Problems in Mandated College Students: A Randomized Clinical Trial Using Stepped Care 
Objective
Over the past two decades, colleges and universities have seen a large increase in the number of students referred to the administration for alcohol policies violations. However, a substantial portion of mandated students may not require extensive treatment. Stepped care may maximize treatment efficiency and greatly reduce the demands on campus alcohol programs.
Method
Participants in the study (N = 598) were college students mandated to attend an alcohol program following a campus-based alcohol citation. All participants received Step 1: a 15-minute Brief Advice session that included the provision of a booklet containing advice to reduce drinking. Participants were assessed six weeks after receiving the Brief Advice, and those who continued to exhibit risky alcohol use (n = 405) were randomized to Step 2, a 60–90 minute brief motivational intervention (BMI) (n = 211) or an assessment-only control (n = 194). Follow-up assessments were conducted 3, 6, and 9 months after Step 2.
Results
Results indicated that the participants who received a BMI significantly reduced the number of alcohol-related problems compared to those who received assessment-only, despite no significant group differences in alcohol use. In addition, low risk drinkers (n = 102; who reported low alcohol use and related harms at 6-week follow-up and were not randomized to stepped care) showed a stable alcohol use pattern throughout the follow-up period, indicating they required no additional intervention.
Conclusion
Stepped care is an efficient and cost-effective method to reduce harms associated with alcohol use by mandated students.
doi:10.1037/a0029902
PMCID: PMC3514601  PMID: 22924334
25.  Screening in brief intervention trials targeting excessive drinkers in general practice: systematic review and meta-analysis 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2003;327(7414):536-542.
Objective To determine the effectiveness of programmes of screening in general practice for excessive alcohol use and providing brief interventions.
Design Systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials that used screening as a precursor to brief intervention.
Setting General practice.
Main outcome measures Number needed to treat, proportion of patients positive on screening, proportion given brief interventions, and effect of screening.
Results The eight studies included for meta-analysis all used health questionnaires for screening, and the brief interventions included feedback, information, and advice. The studies contained several sources of bias that might lead to overestimates of the effects of intervention. External validity was compromised because typically three out of four people identified by screening as excessive users of alcohol did not qualify for the intervention after a secondary assessment. Overall, in 1000 screened patients, 90 screened positive and required further assessment, after which 25 qualified for brief intervention; after one year 2.6 (95% confidence interval 1.7 to 3.4) reported they drank less than the maximum recommended level.
Conclusions Although even brief advice can reduce excessive drinking, screening in general practice does not seem to be an effective precursor to brief interventions targeting excessive alcohol use. This meta-analysis raises questions about the feasibility of screening in general practice for excessive use of alcohol.
PMCID: PMC192891  PMID: 12958114

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