Computerized brief interventions are a promising approach for integrating substance use interventions into primary care settings. We sought to examine the effectiveness of a computerized brief intervention for illicit drug misuse, which prior research showed performed no worse than a traditional in-person brief intervention.Methods:
Community health center patients were screened for eligibility using the World Health Organization Alcohol, Smoking, and Substance Involvement Screening Test (ASSIST). Participants were adult patients (aged 18–62 years; 53% female) with moderate-risk illicit drug use (N = 80), randomized to receive the computerized brief intervention either immediately or at their 3-month follow-up. Assessments were conducted at baseline, 3, and 6-month follow-up, and included the ASSIST and drug hair testing.Results:
Most participants in the sample (90%) reported moderate-risk marijuana use. Although the sample as a whole reported significant decreases in ASSIST Global Drug Risk scores and ASSIST marijuana-specific scores, no significant differences were detected between “immediate” and “delayed” conditions on either of these measures. Likewise, no significant differences were detected between conditions in drug-positive hair test results at either follow-up.Conclusions:
This study did not find differences between immediate versus delayed computerized brief intervention in reducing drug use or associated risks, suggesting potential regression to the mean or reactivity to the consent, screening, or assessment process. The findings are discussed in light of the study's limitations and directions for future research.