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Keywords:

  • Screening and Brief Intervention;
  • Alcohol;
  • Treatment Seeking;
  • Hispanic Health Disparity

Background

In a large randomized trial examining ethnic differences in response to a brief alcohol intervention following an alcohol-related injury, we showed that Hispanics, but not non-Hispanics, were more likely to reduce alcohol intake in comparison with treatment as usual (Addiction 105:62, 2010). The current study evaluates whether the observed improvements in drinking outcomes previously reported among Hispanics following brief intervention might be related to prior or subsequent treatment utilization.

Methods

This study is a secondary analysis of data collected in a randomized clinical trial that evaluated ethnic differences in the effect of a brief motivational intervention (BMI) on alcohol use among medical inpatients admitted for alcohol-related injury. For this study, statistical analyses were carried out to compare alcohol use, alcohol problems, treatment utilization, and unmet treatment need between Hispanic (n = 537) and non-Hispanic White (n = 668) inpatients. In addition, we examined the relationship between prior treatment utilization and unmet treatment need and alcohol use outcomes following brief intervention and the impact of brief intervention on subsequent treatment utilization and unmet treatment need.

Results

In comparison with non-Hispanic Whites, Hispanics at baseline reported heavier drinking, more alcohol problems, greater unmet treatment need, and lower rates of treatment utilization. Among Hispanics, multilevel analyses showed that prior treatment utilization or unmet treatment need did not moderate the effect of BMI on alcohol outcomes. Furthermore, BMI did not significantly impact subsequent treatment utilization or unmet treatment need among Hispanics. Finally, treatment utilization and unmet treatment need at 6 months were not significant mediators between BMI and alcohol use outcomes at follow-up.

Conclusions

The benefits of brief intervention among Hispanics do not appear to be better explained by subsequent engagement in mutual help groups or formal substance abuse treatment. Prior history of treatment, regardless of the severity of alcohol problems, does not appear to influence the impact of brief intervention on alcohol use among Hispanics. These findings support prior results reporting the benefits of brief intervention among Hispanics and demonstrate that these improvements are not related to prior or subsequent treatment utilization.