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J Addict Prev. 2015;3(1). pii: 11.

Effects of Brief Alcohol Interventions on Drinking and Driving among Youth: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis.

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Peabody Research Institute, Vanderbilt University, USA.
Peabody Research Institute, Vanderbilt University, USA ; Department of Human and Organizational Development, Vanderbilt University, USA.
Department of Human and Organizational Development, Vanderbilt University, USA.



Alcohol-impaired driving persists as a major cause of traffic fatalities and injuries among young drivers. This meta-analysis examined whether brief alcohol interventions were effective in reducing driving after drinking among adolescents and young adults.


Our systematic search identified 12 experimental/quasi-experimental evaluations (16 intervention groups) that measured driving while intoxicated and related consequences and provided data for effect size calculation (N = 5,664; M age =17 years; 57% male). The studies were published between 1991 and 2011. Three-level random-effects meta-analyses using a structural equation modeling approach were used to summarize the effects of the interventions.


Compared with controls, participants in brief alcohol interventions reported reduced drinking and driving and related consequences ( = 0.15, 95% CI [0.08, 0.21]). Supplemental analyses indicated that reductions in driving while intoxicated were positively associated with the reduced post-intervention heavy use of alcohol. These findings were not attenuated by study design or implementation factors.


Brief alcohol interventions under 5 hours of contact may constitute a promising preventive approach targeting drinking and driving among adolescents and young adults. Reducing heavy episodic alcohol consumption appeared to be a major factor in reducing drunk-driving instances. Interpretation of the findings must be made with caution, however, given the possibility of publication bias and the small observed effect size. Future research should focus on the exact mechanisms of behavior change leading to beneficial outcomes of brief alcohol interventions and the potential effectiveness of combined brief interventions and other preventive approaches.


Adolescents; Brief alcohol intervention; Driving after drinking/DWI; Heavy episodic drinking; Meta-analysis; Underage drinkers; Young adults


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