Effectiveness of a Specialized Brief Intervention for At-risk Drinkers in an Emergency Department: Short-term Results of a Randomized Controlled Trial
Background: Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) programs have been developed, evaluated, and shown to be effective, particularly in primary care and general practice. Nevertheless, effectiveness of SBIRT in emergency departments (EDs) has not been clearly established. Objective: We aimed to evaluate the feasibility and efficacy of an SBIRT program conducted by highly specialized professionals in the ED of a tertiary hospital. Methods: We conducted a randomized controlled trial to study the feasibility and efficacy of an SBIRT program conducted by alcohol specialists for at-risk drinkers presenting to the ED, measured with the three-item version of the Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test (AUDIT-C). Patients were randomized to two groups, with the control group receiving two leaflets-one regarding alcohol use and the other giving information about the study protocol. The intervention group received the same leaflets as well as a brief motivational intervention on alcohol use and, where appropriate, a referral to specialized treatment. The primary outcomes were the proportion of at-risk alcohol use measured by AUDIT-C scale and the proportion of patients attending specialized treatment at 1.5 months. Results: Of 3,027 patients presenting to the ED, 2,044 (67%) were potentially eligible to participate, 247 (12%) screened positive for at-risk drinking, and 200 agreed to participate. Seventy-two percent of the participating sample were men, and the mean (±SD) age was 43 (±16.7) years. Follow-up rates were 76.5%. At 1.5 months, the intervention group showed greater reductions in alcohol consumption and fewer patients continuing with at-risk alcohol use (27.8% vs. 48.1%; p = 0.01). The SBIRT program also increased the probability of attending specialized treatment, compared to the control condition (23% vs. 9.8%, p = 0.0119) CONCLUSION: The SBIRT program in the ED was found to be feasible and effective in identifying at-risk drinkers, reducing at-risk alcohol use, and increasing treatment for alcohol problems.
Risk drinkers; Brief interventions; Emergency services; Implementation
Bruguera P, Barrio P, Oliveras C, Braddick F, Gavotti C, Bruguera C, et al. Effectiveness of a Specialized Brief Intervention for At-risk Drinkers in an Emergency Department: Short-term Results of a Randomized Controlled Trial. Acad Emerg Med. 2018 May;25(5):517-525.
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