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BMC Emerg Med. 2014 Jun 30;14:13. doi: 10.1186/1471-227X-14-13.

Brief motivational intervention for adolescents treated in emergency departments for acute alcohol intoxication - a randomized-controlled trial.

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German Center for Addiction Research in Childhood and Adolescence, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Hamburg, Germany.



Alcohol misuse among youth is a major public health concern and numbers of adolescents admitted to the emergency department for acute alcoholic intoxication in Germany are recently growing. The emergency setting offers an opportunity to reach at-risk alcohol consuming adolescents and provide brief interventions in a potential "teachable moment". However, studies on brief interventions targeting adolescents in emergency care are scarce and little is known about their effectiveness when delivered immediately following hospitalization for acute alcohol intoxication. In this protocol we present the HaLT-Hamburg trial evaluating a brief motivational intervention for adolescents treated in the emergency department after an episode of acute alcoholic intoxication.


The trial design is a parallel two-arm cluster randomized-controlled trial with follow-up assessment after 3 and 6 months. Nā€‰=ā€‰312 participants aged 17 years and younger will be recruited Fridays to Sundays in 6 pediatric clinics over a period of 30 months. Intervention condition is a manual-based brief motivational intervention with a telephone booster after 6 weeks and a manual-guided intervention for caregivers which will be compared to treatment as usual. Primary outcomes are reduction in binge drinking episodes, quantity of alcohol use on a typical drinking day and alcohol-related problems. Secondary outcome is further treatment seeking. Linear mixed models adjusted for baseline differences will be conducted according to intention-to-treat (ITT) and completers (per-protocol) principles to examine intervention effects. We also examine quantitative and qualitative process data on feasibility, intervention delivery, implementation and receipt from intervention providers, receivers and regular emergency department staff.


The study has a number of strengths. First, a rigorous evaluation of HaLT-Hamburg is timely because variations of the HaLT project are widely used in Germany. Second, prior research has not targeted adolescents in the presumed teachable moment following acute alcohol intoxication. Third, we included a comprehensive process evaluation to raise external validity. Fourth, the study involved important stakeholders from the start to set up organizational structures for implementation and maintaining project impact.


Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN31234060 (April 30th 2012).

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