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Alcohol Alcohol. 2006 Nov-Dec;41(6):643-9. Epub 2006 Aug 10.

The effectiveness of a tailored intervention for excessive alcohol consumption prior to elective surgery.

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  • 1School of Public Health, University of Sydney, NSW, Australia.



To assess the effectiveness of a tailored pre-operative intervention for excessive alcohol consumption in reducing post-operative complications and alcohol consumption thereafter.


Patients scheduled for elective surgery requiring at least overnight hospitalisation were screened for alcohol misuse. Consenting, eligible participants with > or =7 days to surgery at the time of screening were offered an intervention and those with <7 days to surgery were provided usual care.


Over a period of 2 years and 10 months, 3139 patients were screened to recruit 136 participants. Baseline analysis revealed a mean age of 53 (+/-15.8) years and a mean consumption of 71 g/day (+/-48.1). The intervention group (n = 45) did not differ significantly from controls (n = 91) in age, consumption, and number of current smokers, but there were significantly more women in the control group. There was no difference between the groups in major or minor complications experienced, or length of stay after controlling for age, gender, and baseline consumption. At 6-month follow-up there was a significant reduction in drinking for the entire study population.


The study did not demonstrate any beneficial effect of the pre-operative intervention on post-operative complications. The relatively short time to surgery, intervention by a non-member of the surgical team, challenges to recruitment and reduced consumption in the control group may have limited the ability of the study to detect a significant effect of the intervention.

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