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Enhancing the Effectiveness of Traditional Interventions with Drinking Drivers by Adding Brief Individual Intervention Components

Elisabeth Wells-Parker, Marsha Williams

Objective: The purpose of the research was to determine whether the effectiveness of a traditional DUI (Driving Under the Influence) group intervention program could be enhanced by the addition of two brief individual intervention sessions and a follow-up. The differential effectiveness of the individual intervention component was examined for four offender subgroups (young minorities, problem drinkers, women and depressed offenders) that had been previously identified as at high risk or vulnerable. Method: Adjudicated first DUI offenders (N = 4,074), of whom 776 (19%) were female, were randomly assigned to a standard first-offender program or an enhanced standard program that included two short individual sessions and a brief follow-up session. The setting was a mandated first-offender program in 10 Mississippi locations. Results: Depressed offenders who were assigned to the enhanced program were 35% less likely to recidivate than those assigned to the standard program. The effectiveness of the two programs did not differ significantly for offenders who self-reported low depression. No significant interaction effects were found between program type and age, minority status or gender. After depressed mood was controlled for, problem-drinker status was not related to program effectiveness; however, problem drinkers had higher depression rates. Conclusions: Results suggest that the combination of a standard first-offender program with brief individual counseling can be effective for DUI offenders who report depressed mood and who are at high risk for recidivism. A five-item screen for sad/depressed mood from a widely used DUI risk assessment instrument identified offenders who benefited from the enhanced intervention. (J. Stud. Alcohol 63: 655-664, 2002)