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Am J Public Health. 1996 July; 86(7): 948–955.
PMCID: PMC1380435

A cross-national trial of brief interventions with heavy drinkers. WHO Brief Intervention Study Group.


OBJECTIVES. The relative effects of simple advice and brief counseling were evaluated with heavy drinkers identified in primary care and other health settings in eight countries. METHODS. Subjects (1260 men, 299 women) with no prior history of alcohol dependence were selected if they consumed alcohol with sufficient frequency or intensity to be considered at risk of alcohol-related problems. Subjects were randomly assigned to a control group, a simple advice group, or a group receiving brief counseling. Seventy-five percent of subjects were evaluated 9 months later. RESULTS. Male patients exposed to the interventions reported approximately 17% lower average daily alcohol consumption than those in the control group. Reductions in the intensity of drinking were approximately 10%. For women, significant reductions were observed in both the control and the intervention groups. Five minutes of simple advice were as effective as 20 minutes of brief counseling. CONCLUSIONS. Brief interventions are consistently robust across health care settings and sociocultural groups and can make a significant contribution to the secondary prevention of alcohol-related problems if they are widely used in primary care.

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Selected References

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