A new systematic review and meta-analysis has found that alcohol-targeted brief interventions (short, structured, one-to-one conversations about drinking designed to motivate changes in risky behaviour) delivered in doctors’ offices and similar medical settings can produce small but useful reductions in drinking.
Published in the scientific journal Addiction, this review synthesized findings from 116 trials and 64,439 total participants to estimate the efficacy of brief interventions for alcohol and other drug use, delivered in general medical settings. Alcohol-targeted brief interventions yielded small beneficial effects on alcohol use, equivalent to a reduction in 1 drinking day per month. Interestingly, the findings were inconclusive for brief interventions delivered in emergency department/trauma centers but were effective when delivered in other general medical settings (e.g., a primary care clinic). There was limited evidence regarding the effects of drug-targeted brief interventions on drug use.
Lead author Emily Tanner-Smith comments: “A reduction of one drinking day per month may not sound like much, but small individual reductions can add up to a substantial reduction in population level harms. Given their brevity, low cost, and minimal clinician effort, brief interventions may be a promising way to reduce alcohol use, one patient at a time.”
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Full citation for article: Tanner-Smith EE, Parr NJ, Schweer-Collins M, and Saitz R (2021) Effects of Brief Substance Use Interventions Delivered in General Medical Settings: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Addiction: doi:10.1111/add.15674
Funding: This work was supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse [R01DA029785].
Addiction (www.addictionjournal.org) is a monthly international scientific journal publishing peer-reviewed research reports on alcohol, substances, tobacco, and gambling as well as editorials and other debate pieces. Owned by the Society for the Study of Addiction, it has been in continuous publication since 1884.
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Effects of Brief Substance Use Interventions Delivered in General Medical Settings: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
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E.E.T.-S., N.J.P., and M.S.C. have no conflicts of interest to declare. R.S. reports personal fees from University of Oregon to support this work. R.S. also reports non-financial support from Alkermes, personal fees from American Society of Addiction Medicine, American Medical Association, National Council on Behavioral Healthcare, Kaiser Permanente, UpToDate/Wolters Kluwer, Yale University, National Committee on Quality Assurance, Oregon Health Sciences University, RAND Corporation, Leed Management Consulting/Harvard Medical School, Partners, Beth Israel/Deaconess Hospital, American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry, Group Health Cooperative, Checkup and Choices, International Network on Brief Interventions for Alcohol and Other Drugs (INEBRIA) supported via funds from Systembolaget, Smart Recovery, Karolinska Institute, Institute for Research and Training in the Addictions, Medical Malpractice Expert Witness, Charles University, Brandeis University, and Massachusetts Medical Society outside the submitted work; he also reports research consulting to ABT Corporation (not remunerated). R.S. is an author of primary studies included in this review, but was not involved in the data extraction or data analysis of those studies for this review.