Primary care-based intervention to reduce at-risk drinking in older adults: a randomized controlled trial


  • This paper was presented originally at the Research Society on Alcoholism Annual Scientific Meeting, San Diego, CA, IL, June 2009.

Alison A. Moore, Division of Geriatric Medicine, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, 10945 Le Conte Boulevard, Suite 2339, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA. E-mail:


Aims  To examine whether a multi-faceted intervention among older at-risk drinking primary care patients reduced at-risk drinking and alcohol consumption at 3 and 12 months.

Design  Randomized controlled trial.

Setting  Three primary care sites in southern California.

Participants  Six hundred and thirty-one adults aged ≥ 55 years who were at-risk drinkers identified by the Comorbidity Alcohol Risk Evaluation Tool (CARET) were assigned randomly between October 2004 and April 2007 during an office visit to receive a booklet on healthy behaviors or an intervention including a personalized report, booklet on alcohol and aging, drinking diary, advice from the primary care provider and telephone counseling from a health educator at 2, 4 and 8 weeks.

Measurements  The primary outcome was the proportion of participants meeting at-risk criteria, and secondary outcomes were number of drinks in past 7 days, heavy drinking (four or more drinks in a day) in the past 7 days and risk score.

Findings  At 3 months, relative to controls, fewer intervention group participants were at-risk drinkers [odds ratio (OR) 0.41; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.22–0.75]; they reported drinking fewer drinks in the past 7 days [rate ratio (RR) 0.79; 95% CI 0.70–0.90], less heavy drinking (OR 0.46; 95% CI 0.22–0.99) and had lower risk scores (RR 0.77 95% CI 0.63–0.94). At 12 months, only the difference in number of drinks remained statistically significant (RR 0.87; 95% CI 0.76–0.99).

Conclusions  A multi-faceted intervention among older at-risk drinkers in primary care does not reduce the proportions of at-risk or heavy drinkers, but does reduce amount of drinking at 12 months.