Do Primary Care-based Interventions Decrease Alcohol Use in Older Drinkers?
The benefit of alcohol brief intervention (BI) for older drinkers is uncertain. Prior research showed efficacy but defined at-risk drinking narrowly and did not take into account risk factors more common to older drinkers such as interaction with medications or comorbidities. In this study, researchers randomized 631 at-risk* drinkers aged ≥55 years to intervention (advice from a primary-care provider, personalized printed information, educational material, and telephone follow-up with a health educator at 2, 4, and 8 weeks) or to a control group (educational material only). Participants were primarily male, white, and well-educated. Self-reported baseline consumption averaged 15 drinks per week.
- At 3 months, intervention-group participants reported fewer drinks per week (8.9 versus 10.7) and were less likely to be at-risk drinkers (50% versus 61%) than controls. However, only fewer drinks per week (9.4 versus 10.7 drinks) remained significant at 12 months.
- Attrition rates were higher in the intervention group (21% at 3 months and 29% at 12 months) than in the control group (4% at 3 months and 7% at 12 months).