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Ann Emerg Med. 2005 Jul;46(1):67-76.

Evaluation of a brief intervention in an inner-city emergency department.

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Department of Psychiatry, Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, Los Angeles, CA 90059, USA.



This study tests the effect of a brief intervention with emergency department (ED) patients to reduce at-risk drinking.


We enrolled patients aged 18 years or older who screened positive for at-risk drinking in an urban academic ED and used alternative allocation to assign them to control or intervention status. A 20-minute, semiscripted, negotiated interview was conducted with the intervention group in English and Spanish by 3 health promotion advocates (peer educators). The Alcohol Use Identification Test (AUDIT) was administered at baseline and 3 months after enrollment.


Among 1,036 patients screened for at-risk drinking, 295 with CAGE questionnaire score greater than 1 and no alcohol treatment in the past year enrolled in the study and were randomly assigned to the control arm (n=151) or the intervention arm (n=144). Follow-up was achieved with 88 patients in the intervention group and 97 patients in the control group (63% of enrollees). Among the 185 patients followed up, 64% of the intervention group versus 80% of the control group scored greater than 7 on the follow-up AUDIT (scored on a scale of 1 to 40; P<.05, odds ratio [OR] 2.35, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.21 to 4.55). Multinomial logistic regression analysis demonstrates, after controlling for demographic characteristics and other independent variables, that assignment to intervention status decreased the odds of at-risk (moderate) drinking as defined by AUDIT scores of 7 to 18 (OR 0.42, P<.05, 95% CI 0.19 to 0.91) but did not affect patients with AUDIT scores in the 19 to 40 range.


Brief motivational intervention administered by peer educators to ED patients appears to reduce moderately risky drinking and associated problems.

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