Brief Intervention for Problem Drinkers in a Chinese Population: A Randomized Controlled Trial in a Hospital Setting

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Abstract

Background

Alcohol is a legal and accessible substance in Taiwan. As excessive alcohol has been linked to health and social problems, it is necessary to develop a brief, rapid, and low-cost tool to help health care providers deal with persons in Taiwan whose alcohol consumption has become hazardous or harmful to their health.

Methods

A randomized controlled clinical trial with 6- and 12-month follow-ups was designed. Eighteen medical/surgical units at a medical center in northern Taiwan were randomly assigned to 2 groups: experimental (n = 9) and control (n = 9). Inpatients on the units were enrolled if they met the following criteria: were older than 18 years, had no severe psychiatric illness, and were not pregnant. The experimental group (n = 138) received the intervention, a 15-minute counseling visit in which nurses screened participants using the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT), provided a health promotion booklet for adults, and individually discussed the booklet contents with patients based on their drinking level (AUDIT score). The control group (n = 137) received no treatment. Patterns of alcohol consumption were determined by AUDIT scores at baseline, 6, and 12 months later.

Results

Alcohol use disorders identification test scores decreased significantly in both groups at 6 months after the intervention, but did not differ significantly between the 2 groups. However, 12 months after the brief alcohol intervention, experimental subjects' AUDIT scores were significantly better than those of the control group.

Conclusions

Our brief alcohol intervention provided a 12-month benefit for problem drinkers in Taiwan.

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