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

jority of hazardous drinkers can benefit from a brief intervention designed to reduce hazardous drinking. Individuals with clear signs of alcohol dependence, on the other hand, may warrant interventions of greater duration, sometimes including pharmacotherapy. Nonetheless, brief interventions are a way of identifying individuals who are possibly alcohol dependent, and referring them for treatment. In this sense, a brief intervention may be regarded as a component of a 'stepped-care' approach."

  • A five-minute in-person intervention has proven to be as effective as longer interventions.

    "It is generally impracticable for a health practitioner to deliver a one-hour intervention to a young person whose drinking is risky," said Kypri. "Ten to 15 minutes of assessment and advice in the waiting room, however, may be quite deliverable to a large proportion of individuals with hazardous-drinking habits."

  • Among college students, hazardous drinkers respond well to electronic assessment and feedback about their alcohol consumption, as opposed to a discussion about their drinking with a doctor or other health professional.

    "Our research suggests that young people who are not seeking treatment for an alcohol problem would be disinclined to discuss their drinking with a health practitioner through fear of being judged," said Kypri. "Young people are nonetheless curious about how risky their drinking is and how it compares with that of their peers. Computerized approaches capitalize on this curiosity while reducing the potential that young people will be put off by the prospect of having to discuss their drinking and its consequences with a health practitioner."

    Kypri added that web-based approaches can also address what he called the "tyranny of distance" experienced by people in remote areas. "If designed well, web-based intervention can mimic some aspects of the clinical interview, in particular, the assessment, presentati

  • 15-Feb-2004

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