Hazardous and harmful drinkers identified in Emergency Rooms (ER) in the US were more likely to reduce their alcohol consumption and cut down on binge drinking, and less likely to drive after drinking three or more alcoholic beverages, after they received counseling from an emergency medical practitioner, according to the results of a randomised, clinical trial published online in Annals of Emergency.
Researchers conducted a trial with 740 patients classified as hazardous and harmful drinkers. They conducted a brief negotiation interview (BNI) with 298 patients. An additional 295 patients received the BNI with a ‘booster’ phone call one month later. (The remaining 148 patients received standard care.) The ultimate goals of the BNI were to negotiate a drinking goal with the patient and to have the patient sign a drinking agreement to reduce his or her alcohol consumption.
Patients who received a BNI reduced their average number of drinks from 19.8 per week at baseline to 12.7 (at 6 months) to 14.3 (at 12 months). The reduction in 28-day binge drinking episodes for the BNI group was 7.2 episodes at baseline to 4.8 episodes (at 6 months) to 5.1 episodes (at 12 months). The BNI with booster had even greater reductions but offered no significant benefit over the BNI performed at the initial emergency department visit. Rates of driving after drinking declined from 38% at baseline to 29% at 12 months in the BNI group, and from 39% at baseline to 31% at 12 months in the BNI plus booster group.
“The intervention, which lasts only 7 minutes, was still affecting these patients’ lives for the better 12 months later,” said lead study author Gail D’Onofrio, MD, FACEP, of the Yale University School of Medicine. “This shows that sometimes what emergency physicians say has as great an impact on our patients as what we do. Motivating people not to drink and drive is beneficial for them and society at large.”
Source: Annals of Emergency Medicine, news release, March 28, 2012