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J Subst Abuse Treat. 2015 Apr;51:1-18. doi: 10.1016/j.jsat.2014.09.001. Epub 2014 Sep 16.

Brief alcohol interventions for adolescents and young adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

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Peabody Research Institute, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, USA. Electronic address:
Peabody Research Institute, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, USA.


This study reports findings from a meta-analysis summarizing the effectiveness of brief alcohol interventions for adolescents (age 11-18) and young adults (age 19-30). We identified 185 eligible study samples using a comprehensive literature search and synthesized findings using random-effects meta-analyses with robust standard errors. Overall, brief alcohol interventions led to significant reductions in alcohol consumption and alcohol-related problems among adolescents (g = 0.27 and g = 0.19) and young adults (g = 0.17 and g = 0.11). These effects persisted for up to 1 year after intervention and did not vary across participant demographics, intervention length, or intervention format. However, certain intervention modalities (e.g., motivational interviewing) and components (e.g., decisional balance, goal-setting exercises) were associated with larger effects. We conclude that brief alcohol interventions yield beneficial effects on alcohol-related outcomes for adolescents and young adults that are modest but potentially worthwhile given their brevity and low cost.


Adolescents; Brief alcohol intervention; Meta-analysis; Systematic review; Young adults

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