Randomized Trial of Brief Office-Based Interventions to Reduce Adolescent Alcohol Use

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To determine whether office-based interventions change adolescents' alcohol beliefs and alcohol use.


Randomized, controlled trial.


Five managed care group practices in Washington, DC.


Consecutive 12- to 17-year-olds (N = 409) seeing primary care providers (N = 26) for general check-ups. Most of the adolescents (79%) were African American, 44% were male, and 16% currently drank.


Usual care (Group I), adolescent priming with alcohol self-assessment just prior to check-up (Group II), adolescent priming and provider prompting with adolescent self-assessment and brochure (Group III).

Main Outcome Measures

Adolescent alcohol beliefs at exit interview and self-reported behaviors at 6- and 12-month follow-up.


At exit interview, Groups II and III reported that less alcohol was needed for impaired thinking and a greater intent to drink alcohol in the next 3 months than Group I. At 6 months, Group III reported more resistance to peer pressure to drink, and Groups II and III reported more bingeing than Group I. At 1-year follow-up, controlling for baseline levels, Groups II (odds ratio [OR], 3.44; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.44–6.24) and III (OR, 2.86; CI, 1.13–7.26) reported more bingeing in the last 3 months than Group I. Group II reported more drinking in the last 30 days (OR, 2.31; CI, 1.31–4.07) and in the last 3 months (OR, 1.76; CI, 1.12–2.77) than Group I.


Brief office-based interventions were ineffective in reducing adolescent alcohol use but may increase adolescent reporting of alcohol use.

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