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Evidence suggests that brief interventions in the trauma care setting reduce drinking, subsequent injury and driving under the influence (DUI) arrest. However, evidence on the effectiveness of these interventions in ethnic minority groups is lacking. The current study evaluates the efficacy of brief intervention among whites, blacks and Hispanics in the United States.We conducted a two-group parallel randomized trial comparing brief motivational intervention (BMI) and treatment as usual with assessment (TAU+) to evaluate treatment differences in drinking patterns by ethnicity. Patients were recruited from a level 1 urban trauma center over a 2-year period. The study included 1493 trauma patients, including 668 whites, 288 blacks and 537 Hispanics. Hierarchical linear modeling was used to evaluate ethnic differences in drinking outcomes including volume per week, maximum amount consumed in 1 day, percentage days abstinent and percentage days heavy drinking at 6- and 12-month follow-up. Analyses controlled for age, gender, employment status, marital status, prior alcohol treatment, type of injury and injury severity. Special emphasis was given to potential ethnic differences by testing the interaction between ethnicity and BMI.At 6- and 12-month follow-up, BMI significantly reduced maximum amount consumed in 1 day (P < 0.001; P < 0.001, respectively) and percentage days heavy drinking (P < 0.05; P < 0.05, respectively) among Hispanics. Hispanics in the BMI group also reduced average volume per week at 12-month follow-up (Χ2 = 6.8, df = 1, P < 0.01). In addition, Hispanics in TAU+ reduced maximum amount consumed at 6- and 12-month follow-up (P < 0.001; P < 0.001) and volume per week at 12-month follow-up (P < 0.001). Whites and blacks in both BMI and TAU+ reduced volume per week and percentage days heavy drinking at 12-month follow-up (P < 0.001; P < 0.01, respectively) and decreased maximum amount at 6- (P < 0.001) and 12-month follow-up (P < 0.001). All three ethnic groups In both BMI and TAU+ reduced volume per week at 6-month follow-up (P < 0.001) and percentage days abstinent at 6- (P < 0.001) and 12-month follow-up (P < 0.001).All three ethnic groups evidenced reductions in drinking at 6- and 12-month follow-up independent of treatment assignment. Among Hispanics, BMI reduced alcohol intake significantly as measured by average volume per week, percentage days heavy drinking and maximum amount consumed in 1 day.