Brief counselling by a doctor can reduce drinking

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

A new systematic review and meta-analysis has found that alcohol-targeted brief interventions (short, structured, one-to-one conversations about drinking designed to motivate changes in risky behaviour) delivered in doctors' offices and similar medical settings can produce small but useful reductions in drinking. 

Published in the scientific journal Addiction, this review synthesized findings from 116 trials and 64,439 total participants to estimate the efficacy of for alcohol and other drug use, delivered in general medical settings.  Alcohol-targeted brief interventions yielded small beneficial effects on alcohol use, equivalent to a reduction in 1 drinking day per month.  Interestingly, the findings were inconclusive for brief interventions delivered in /trauma centers but were effective when delivered in other general medical settings (e.g., a primary care clinic). There was limited evidence regarding the effects of drug-targeted brief interventions on .

Lead author Emily Tanner-Smith comments: "A reduction of one drinking day per month may not sound like much, but small individual reductions can add up to a substantial reduction in population level harms.  Given their brevity, low cost, and minimal clinician effort, brief interventions may be a promising way to reduce alcohol use, one patient at a time."

Explore further

Web interventions for alcohol misuse

More information: Effects of Brief Substance Use Interventions Delivered in General Medical Settings: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis, Addiction (2021).
Journal information: Addiction

Provided by Society for the Study of Addiction
Citation: Brief counselling by a doctor can reduce drinking (2021, October 14) retrieved 18 January 2022 from
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Feedback to editors