Brief mail- and computer-generated interventions work best for problem drinking among young people

Health professionals who are concerned about hazardous drinking among young people can take heart: research indicates that brief intervention methods relying on mail or computers are both appealing and effective among this hard-to-reach population.

Findings were presented during a symposium given at the joint June 2002 Research Society on Alcoholism/International Society for Biomedical Research on Alcoholism meeting in San Francisco. Symposium proceedings are published in the February issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

"The purpose of this research is first and foremost to determine whether brief intervention is effective in reducing hazardous drinking among young people, and secondly, to figure out the specific conditions which make it effective, that is, setting, duration, and method of presentation," said Kypros Kypri, research fellow at the University of Otago in New Zealand and corresponding author for the symposium proceedings. "In contrast with brief-intervention research in older populations, which has been going on for about 20 years," he added, "there have been relatively few studies of brief intervention with young people, those aged 15 to 24 years."

Symposium presentations addressed what is known about the efficacy of brief interventions in the general population, a review of college student drinking in four countries, a review and commentary on brief motivational interventions with college students, and the preliminary results of a large trial of a brief intervention for college students. Some of the key points were:

  • In-person brief interventions are best directed toward those who engage in hazardous drinking and/or abuse of alcohol rather than those who are alcohol dependent.

    "The vast majority of hazardous drinkers do not develop chronic alcohol dependence," explained Kypri, "but instead experience transient or intermittent periods of problem drinking. Studies show that the ma

  • 15-Feb-2004

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