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Controlled study of brief personalized assessment-feedback for drinkers interested in self-help

Authors

  • T. Cameron Wild,

    Corresponding author
    1. School of Public Health, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada,
      Cameron Wild, Addiction and Mental Health Research Laboratory, University of Alberta, 13–103 Clinical Sciences Building, Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2G3, Canada. E-mail: cam.wild@ualberta.ca
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  • John A. Cunningham,

    1. Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, Ontario, Canada,
    2. Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada and
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  • Amanda B. Roberts

    1. Public Health Agency of Canada, Alberta/NWT Branch, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
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Cameron Wild, Addiction and Mental Health Research Laboratory, University of Alberta, 13–103 Clinical Sciences Building, Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2G3, Canada. E-mail: cam.wild@ualberta.ca

ABSTRACT

Aims  Brief alcohol interventions typically have been directed to heavy-drinking patients seeking primary health care and college students. This study examined the efficacy of mailing brief personalized assessment-feedback to interested drinkers recruited from the general public. We hypothesized that problem drinkers would benefit more from the intervention than individuals who were not problem drinkers.

Design  A two-arm, double-blinded, community-based randomized controlled trial with 6-month follow-up.

Setting and participants  A screening interview was administered to a stratified random sample of 10 014 Canadians 18 years of age and older (5621 women and 4393 men; M age = 43.3 years, SD = 15.99; response rate = 65.4%).

Intervention  Current drinkers interested in receiving alcohol self-help materials (n = 1727) were assigned randomly to receive brief personalized assessment-feedback on male and female population drinking norms by mail, or to a delayed-treatment control group, and were contacted 6 months later (76% retention rate).

Measurements  Problem drinking status at baseline [using sex-specific Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) cut scores], and frequency and quantity of alcohol use at follow-up.

Findings  Analysis of covariance identified the hypothesized interaction of baseline problem drinking status and treatment condition (P < 0.01). Among problem drinkers identified at baseline the intervention caused a 10.1% reduction in per-occasion binge drinking compared to controls, whereas there was no difference in binge drinking across conditions for non-problem drinkers.

Conclusions  The continuum of care for alcohol problems can be broadened by providing brief interventions to interested drinkers in the general population.

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