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Br Med J (Clin Res Ed). 1985 Mar 30;290(6473):965-7.

Counselling problem drinkers in medical wards: a controlled study.


Seven hundred and thirty one men admitted to medical wards were interviewed to identify problem drinkers who had not received previous treatment for alcoholism and who had some social support. One hundred and sixty one met the diagnostic criteria; 156 agreed to a follow up interview and were allocated to one of two groups. One group received a session of counselling about their drinking habits from a nurse while the other received only routine medical care. Both groups reported a reduction in alcohol consumption when interviewed 12 months later, but the counselled group had a significantly better outcome than the control group. It is concluded that systematic screening for alcohol consumption and related problems should become a routine part of medical assessment and that advice on drinking habits is effective if given before irreversible physical or psychosocial problems have developed.

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