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Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2011 Oct;35(10):1822-30. doi: 10.1111/j.1530-0277.2011.01526.x. Epub 2011 Jul 20.

Is brief motivational intervention effective in reducing alcohol use among young men voluntarily receiving it? A randomized controlled trial.

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Alcohol Treatment Centre, Lausanne University Hospital, Lausanne, Switzerland.



Heavy drinking is one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in young men. Brief motivational intervention (BMI) has shown promising results for young people, but has never been tested in young men in the community who volunteered to receive an intervention.


We evaluated the effectiveness of BMI in reducing alcohol use among heavy episodic users and in maintaining low-risk drinking among nonheavy episodic users. Participants were French-speaking young men attending the mandatory Swiss army conscription process. They were offered the opportunity to receive a 20-minute BMI, and those interested were randomized into an intervention group (BMI immediately) or into a control group (BMI after the 6-month follow-up assessment, in a waiting list design). Analyses were conducted separately for heavy and nonheavy episodic users (separated using baseline heavy episodic use frequency) as the hypotheses tested were different between both groups (primary vs. secondary prevention intervention).


From a pool of 6,085 young men invited to receive BMI, 727 (11.9%) showed up and 572 were included in the study (after exclusions related to organizational aspects of the conscription process). Among nonheavy episodic users, there was a protective effect of BMI on weekly alcohol use (p < 0.05). Among heavy episodic users, there were no significant effects of BMI.


About 12% of young men were interested in addressing their drinking within the BMI framework, suggesting that there is some need for easily accessible alcohol intervention. The present intervention did have a preventive effect among low-risk young drinkers in helping them maintain their patterns of alcohol use. An explanation for the lack of effectiveness among heavy episodic users might be that those individuals interested in BMI had patterns of more severe alcohol use, thereby making change more difficult.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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