Public Release: 

Web interventions for alcohol misuse

American College of Physicians

A systematic evidence review published in Annals of Internal Medicine finds that low-intensity electronic interventions may slightly reduce alcohol consumption among adults and college students, but may be ineffective for reducing binge-drinking frequency and the negative social consequences associated with alcohol misuse. The evidence suggests that higher intensity interventions may be needed to reduce drinking to a level that is compliant with recommended drinking limits.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that physicians screen their patients for alcohol misuse and offer brief counseling interventions to those who need it. Studies have shown these interventions to be effective for reducing alcohol consumption, but inadequate funding, time, and lack of trained personnel can create barriers to counseling. If effective, web-based interventions could eliminate some of these barriers and extend the reach of treatment.

Researchers reviewed 28 unique trials to determine the efficacy of electronic interventions for reducing alcohol consumption and alcohol-related impairment. The researchers found limited evidence that electronic interventions worked in the short-term to slightly reduce alcohol consumption in adults and college students who screened positive for hazardous alcohol use. There was little evidence to suggest that web-based interventions had any clinically significant effects in the long-term. The researchers suggest that more intensive interventions with human support could have greater benefits.

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Notes: For an embargoed PDF, please contact Cara Graeff. To speak with the lead author, Dr. Eric Dedert, please contact Joshua Dixon joshua.dixon@duke.edu or Megan Warren at megan.warren@va.gov.

Free abstract: http://www.annals.org/article.aspx?doi=10.7326/M15-0285

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