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J Stud Alcohol Drugs. 2012 May;73(3):477-88.

A systematic review of family-based interventions targeting alcohol misuse and their potential to reduce alcohol-related harm in indigenous communities.

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National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.



Alcohol misuse is a major risk factor for harm in indigenous communities. The indigenous family unit is often the setting for, and is most adversely affected by, alcohol-related harm. Therefore, family-based alcohol interventions offer great potential to reduce alcohol-related harm in indigenous communities. This systematic review aims to identify peer-reviewed published evaluations of family-based alcohol interventions, critique the methodological quality of those studies, describe their intervention characteristics, and identify which interventions appear most promising to reduce alcohol-related harm in indigenous communities.


Eleven electronic databases were searched. The reference lists of reviews of family-based approaches focused on alcohol interventions were hand-searched for additional relevant studies not identified by the electronic database search.


Initially, 1,369 studies were identified, of which 21% (n = 142) were classified as intervention studies. Nineteen intervention studies were family-based alcohol interventions. Eleven of these studies included family members in the treatment of problem drinkers, and eight studies specifically targeted family members of problem drinkers. Methodological quality of studies varied, particularly in relation to study design, including confounding variables in the analyses, and follow-up rates.


The evidence for the effectiveness of family-based alcohol interventions is less than optimal, although the reviewed studies did show improved outcomes. Given the important role of family in indigenous communities, there is merit in exploring family-based approaches to reduce alcohol-related harms. Tailored family-based approaches should be developed that include direct consultation with targeted indigenous communities.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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