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Long-Term Effectiveness of Brief Interventions for Unsafe Alcohol Consumption: A 10-Year Follow-Up

NCJ Number
Addiction Volume: 97 Issue: 6 Dated: June 2002 Pages: 665-675
Sonia E. Wutzke; Katherine M. Conigrave; John B. Saunders; Wayne D. Hall
Date Published
June 2002
11 pages
This study examined the long-term impact of brief and early interventions for harmful alcohol consumption.
A 9-month and 10-year follow-up was conducted of 554 subjects recruited into a randomized controlled trial of a range of alcohol-related brief interventions. Participants were the cohort of non-dependent hazardous and harmful drinkers recruited into the Australian arm of the Phase II World Health Organization collaborative project on identification and treatment of persons with harmful alcohol consumption. The effectiveness of three forms of intervention, ranging from 5 to 40 minutes in duration, was compared with a non-treatment control condition. Measurements included drinking behavior and biological markers of alcohol use. At 10 years subjects were asked about symptoms of diagnosable alcohol use disorders and their experience of alcohol-related psychological, social, and physical harm. Mortality was also assessed. Results show further evidence for the short-term effectiveness of alcohol-related brief interventions. In comparison to controls, subjects that were offered intervention reported significantly lower consumption and less unsafe drinking at 9-month follow-up. Results show that the intensity of intervention was not related to the amount of change in drinking behavior. The analysis after 10 years failed to find any differences in outcomes between intervention and control groups in median consumption. There was also no difference in mean reduction in consumption from baseline to follow-up, mortality, and ICD-10 diagnoses of alcohol dependence or harmful alcohol use. There was no evidence that brief advice and counseling without regular follow-up and reinforcement could sustain significant long-term reductions in drinking behavior at 10-year follow-up. Further research is needed to identify appropriate intervals for follow-up. It is likely that follow-up intervals between 9 and 24 months would be appropriate. 4 tables, 50 references