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US students who broke college drinking rules and were required to undertake an alcohol programme responded better to three hours of group motivational interviewing than six of alcohol education; enhanced confidence that they could resist risky drinking was the key. For colleges it offers an effective but economical response to problem drinkers.
At a US university students at first cut back their drinking and cannabis use in response to a brief face-to-face fitness consultation, but the gains were no longer apparent a year after intervention. Yet still at that time they had at least experienced more positive trends in how they felt than students who had just read a fitness brochure.
Brief interventions based on motivational interviewing typically incorporate feedback on the individual's risk and use level compared to the norm, but does this really help? A US college study found it did, the combination leading to greater drinking reductions than either on its own.
STUDY 2005 PDF file 113Kb
Lasting benefits nine years after a brief alcohol intervention
A unique study from Norway discerned lasting benefits from a brief alcohol intervention nine years after risky drinkers had been identified during mass screening for heart disease and other medical risk factors.
Combining findings from randomised trials confirmed that brief advice to risky drinking primary care patients can reduce drinking; now the issue is whether in normal practice those benefits will be realised on a grand enough scale to create public health gains.
With other similar work, this Canadian study suggests that internet-based programs which offer feedback to the user on their drinking in relation to the population and on the risks they may be running can lead to drinking reductions of the same order as face-to-face advice.
At a US emergency department, a brief conversation about the pros and cons of their risky drinking and offers of support for any efforts to reduce harm curbed drinking among alcohol-dependent patients; non-dependent patients tended to do better with assessment and usual care only.
At a US emergency department, a brief conversation about the pros and cons of their drinking and offers of support for any efforts to reduce harm led (compared to assessment and usual care) to extra reductions in the drinking of injured Hispanic patients but not white or black patients.
At a US emergency department, a brief conversation about the pros and cons of their risky drinking and offers of support for any efforts to reduce harm led to extra reductions in the drinking of Hispanic patients which were greatest when they were matched to a Hispanic and Spanish-speaking counsellor.
A few minutes with specially hired interventionists can curb the intake of heavy-drinking emergency patients, but in routine practice hospital staff will usually have to do this work. A US study tested this real-world scenario and found the modest drinking reductions were short-lived.
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