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Evaluating the Effects of a Brief Motivational Intervention for Injured Drinkers in the Emergency Department

Richard Longabaugh, Robert F. Woolard, Ted D. Nirenberg, Allison P. Minugh, Bruce Becker, Patrick R. Clifford, Kathleen Carty, Frank Sparadeo, Aruna Gogineni

Objective: The study aim was to test whether a brief motivational intervention, with or without a booster session, would improve drinking-related outcomes more than standard Emergency Department (ED) treatment. Method: The study population consisted of 539 (78% male) injured patients treated in the ED and discharged to the community following their treatment. Injured patients met inclusion criteria if they were assessed as hazardous or harmful drinkers by scoring eight or more on the AUDIT and/or having alcohol in their system at the time of their injury or ED visit. Patients were randomly assigned to either standard care (SC), brief intervention (BI) or brief intervention plus a booster session (BIB). At 1-year follow-up, 447 patients (83% of the sample) were re-interviewed to measure alcohol-related negative consequences, injuries and drinking. Results: Patients receiving BIB, but not BI patients, reduced alcohol-related negative consequences and alcohol-related injuries more than did those in the SC group. All three groups reduced their days of heavy drinking. Patients with histories of hazardous drinking responded to BIB, whether or not they had consumed alcohol prior to their injury. Conclusions: Together, these results indicate that the effects of a booster session that is added to a brief intervention in the ED can be helpful to injured patients with a history of hazardous or harmful drinking, irrespective of whether they have consumed alcohol prior to their injury. (J. Stud. Alcohol 62: 806-816, 2001)