Brief Interventions in Medical Emergency Rooms Can Reduce Alcohol-Related Injuries

Emergency rooms or departments are important settings in which to deliver alcohol abuse screening and intervention. A brief intervention after a patient suffers a negative consequence of alcohol abuse might be a ‘teachable moment" if healthcare staff can help patients make a link between their abuse of alcohol and personal health harm.

A systematic review based on a comprehensive search of the research literature published in peer-reviewed journals found that emergency room-based brief interventions decreased the likelihood of having an alcohol-related injury in the following 6–12 months by 41%. Although evidence about their consequences on alcohol consumption itself was inconclusive, this review provides additional evidence of the effectiveness of brief interventions in medical settings.



  • Havard, A, Shakeshaft, A., and Sanson-Fisher, R. Systematic review and meta-analyses of strategies targeting alcohol problems in emergency departments: interventions reduce alcohol-related injuries. Addiction 2008; 103:368–76;
  • Crawford, M.J. Review: screening and intervention for alcohol misuse in emergency rooms reduces alcohol-related injuries, Evidence Based Mental Health, 2008, 11(3), 88.

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