How effective are brief interventions in reducing alcohol consumption and improving outcomes for heavy alcohol users admitted to general hospital inpatient units? Heavy users were defined as those regularly consuming alcohol above the recommended safe weekly/daily amounts for the country in which the study took place.
There was no consistency in baseline consumption levels for participant inclusion in the studies. The results of the studies were difficult to combine because of the different measures used to assess alcohol consumption and the substantial variation in how the studies were carried out. Screening alone may also have some impact on alcohol consumption levels.
Brief interventions involve a time-limited intervention, focusing on changing behaviour. They range from a single session providing information and advice, to 1 to 3 sessions of motivational interviewing or skills-based counselling, involving feedback and discussion about responsibility and self-efficacy. Different health professionals may provide the intervention. A Cochrane review has indicated benefits from brief interventions in primary care.1