Background Despite the accumulated evidence on the efficacy of brief interventions in hazardous drinkers some ambiguity remains regarding their differential effectiveness by gender.
Methods Meta-analysis of independent studies conducted in primary health care settings with a follow-up of 6–12 months which report results separately by gender. Two outcome measures were selected: the quantity of typical weekly alcohol consumption and the frequency of drinkers who reported consumption below hazardous levels after the intervention.
Results Seven studies were included in the meta-analysis. The standardized effect sizes for the reduction of alcohol consumption were similar in men (d =− 0.25; 95% CI = − 0.34 to −0.17) and women (d = − 0.26; 95% CI = − 0.38 to − 0.13). The odds ratios (OR) for the frequency of individuals who drank below harmful levels were also similar (four studies; OR for men = 2.32; 95% CI = 1.78–2.93; OR for women = 2.31; 95% CI = 1.60–3.17). The difference between genders was negligible.
Conclusion Our results support the equality of outcomes among men and women achieved by brief interventions for hazardous alcohol consumption in primary care settings.