• Aged;
  • alcohol;
  • comorbidity;
  • intervention;
  • primary care;
  • screening


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.