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Drug Alcohol Rev. 1996 Mar;15(1):29-38.

Effects of brief counselling among male heavy drinkers identified on general hospital wards.

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  • 1Centre For Alcohol & Drug Studies, Northern Regional Alcohol & Drug Service, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 6UR, UK.


Although the prevalence of heavy alcohol consumption among patients of general hospitals is well documented, no study has yet reported an effect of counselling on the ward in reducing the level of consumption among such patients after discharge. This study was designed to evaluate brief counselling to reduce alcohol consumption among male heavy drinkers identified on general hospital wards. Male patients were screened on wards of four teaching hospitals in Sydney, Australia. Identified heavy drinkers (n = 174) showing predominantly low levels of alcohol dependence were allocated to one of two forms of brief counselling (skills-based counselling or brief motivational interviewing) or to a non-intervention control group. Blind follow-up for 123 patients (71%) was carried out approximately 6 months after discharge from hospital and self-reports of alcohol consumption were compared with collateral sources of information. Patients who received counselling showed a significantly greater mean reduction in a quantity-frequency measure of weekly alcohol consumption than controls but there were no significant differences in reduced consumption between the two intervention groups. However, patients who were deemed "not ready to change" showed greater reductions if they had received brief motivational interviewing than if they had received skills-based counselling. The implications of these findings for counselling male in-patients to reduce alcohol consumption are discussed.

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