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Addiction. 2004 Jul;99(7):839-45.

The effects on mortality of brief interventions for problem drinking: a meta-analysis.

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Department of Clinical Psychology, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Netherlands.



Brief interventions for problem drinking may result in decreased mortality rates. Long-term follow-up studies of brief interventions do not produce a clear answer to the question as to whether these interventions reduce mortality or not.


We conducted a meta-analysis of randomized studies comparing brief interventions with a control group, using the fixed-effects model. A systematic literature search produced four studies in which the mortality status of subjects was verified at follow-up. Six more studies reported some deaths at follow-up but did not verify mortality in death registers, and 22 further studies did not report the mortality status of the included subjects.


The pooled relative risk (RR) of dying was 0.47 for the four studies with verified mortality rates (95% CI: 0.25, 0.89). The pooled RR of all 32 studies was comparable (RR = 0.57; 95% CI: 0.38, 0.84), as were the RRs of several other subsamples of studies. The prevented fraction was 0.33 in the studies with verified mortality rates.


Although the overall death rate was low in the population of problem drinkers, brief interventions do appear to reduce mortality.

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