Description of Strategy
Health care employees are uniquely positioned to assist their patients and families with prevention, detection, and treatment of substance abuse. Clinicians have repeated contact with patients over the course of the year and have an opportunity at each visit to communicate with the patient regarding substance abuse. Furthermore, primary care clinicians commonly see patients with a range of alcohol-related risks and problems (Whitlock, Polen, Green, Orleans, & Klein, 2004). A brief intervention with high-risk patients may prevent future substance abuse.
Also known as...
Talk with your physician, brief interventions
Discussion of Effectiveness
Evidence generally supports effectiveness of brief, multi-contact interventions with primary care providers for reducing alcohol consumption (Kaner et al., 2009; Whitlock, Polen, Green, Orleans, & Klein, 2004). A systematic review (University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, 2017) found strong evidence that brief interventions in primary care and general hospital settings can reduce alcohol use and excessive drinking in adults and that brief interventions in schools and colleges can reduce alcohol consumption in young adults. The study also found that these interventions modestly reduce alcohol-related injuries in young adults and adults.
A systematic review of the effectiveness of brief interventions in healthcare and school settings on adolescent tobacco use did not find a significant effect (Tait & Hulse, 2003). A 2008 review of tobacco interventions found that brief, clinical interventions increase overall tobacco abstinence rates (US Department of Health and Human Services, 2008).
Prescription & Other Drugs
There is limited literature on the effectiveness of healthcare initiatives on drug related outcomes. Two studies found that brief interventions were associated with reduced drug use post-intervention (Bernstein et al., 2005; Madras et al., 2009). However, the reduction was not significant for all types of drug use.