Search   |  Advanced

Research Summary

Primary Care Brief Intervention Works Equally Well For Women and Men

Previous meta-analyses have produced inconclusive results on whether brief intervention (BI) for excessive, non-dependent drinkers is equally effective in men and women. To clarify this issue among primary care patients, researchers in Spain performed a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials of BI in primary care settings that reported outcomes (i.e., alcohol consumption at 6- to 12-month follow-up) separately by sex.

Six trials including 1980 men and 1001 women were examined. Reductions in drinking associated with brief intervention were similar for both men and women. As assessed in 4 studies, BI increased the odds of drinking below hazardous levels (defined variably in each study) for men (OR 2.3; 95% CI, 1.8–2.9) and women (OR 2.3; 95% CI, 1.6–3.2).


Equivalence is difficult to prove. However, the substantial overlap of the confidence intervals for both sexes in these high quality studies convincingly demonstrates that brief intervention moderates hazardous drinking equally well in men and women. More studies are needed to determine whether brief intervention works equally well for men and women of diverse ethnic, racial, and national backgrounds.

Peter D. Friedmann, MD, MPH


Ballesteros J, González-Pinto A, Querejeta I, et al. Brief interventions for hazardous drinkers delivered in primary care are equally effective in men and women. Addiction. 2004;99:103–108.
(view abstract)