Effectiveness of Brief Intervention for Alcohol Use by Nonphysicians in Primary Care

The use of Brief Intervention to redice unhealthful alcohol consumption has proven effective when delivered in primary care. This review of the research sought to determine if Brief Intervention is as effective when delivered by nonphysicians (nurses, nurse practioners, health educators, counselors, psychologists, therapists, or trained interventionists) in primary care.

Thirteen studies were analyzed. In three of these there were no differences between physicians and nonphysicians in the efficacy of the Brief Intervention provided.

Two studies examined whether Brief Intervention would be more effective if delivered by a nonphysician in addition to a physician. One found no difference whereas the other found an additional reduction (3.4 fewer drinks per week, down from 5.8 per week).

Seven studies compared the effectiveness of Brief Intervention when delivered by a nonphysician compared to no Brief Intervention and found that Intervention was associated with 1.7 fewer drinks per week.

The investigators conclude that Brief Intervention by nonphysicians is modestly effective in reducing alcohol consumption by primary care patients with unhealthful drinking use.

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  • Sullivan, L.E. et al. A meta-analysis of the efficacy of nonphysician brief interventions for unhealthy alcohol use: implications for the patient-centered medical home. American Journal of Addictions, 2011, 20(4), 343–356.

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