How effective are brief interventions in reducing alcohol consumption: do the setting, practitioner group and content matter? Findings from a systematic review and metaregression analysis
BACKGROUND:While the efficacy and effectiveness of brief interventions for alcohol (ABI) have been demonstrated in primary care, there is weaker evidence in other settings and reviews do not consider differences in content. We conducted a systematic review to measure the effect of ABIs on alcohol consumption and how it differs by the setting, practitioner group and content of intervention. METHODS:We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycINFO; CINAHL, Social Science Citation Index, Cochrane Library and Global Health up to January 2015 for randomised controlled trials that measured effectiveness of ABIs on alcohol consumption. We grouped outcomes into measures of quantity and frequency indices. We used multilevel meta-analysis to estimate pooled effect sizes and tested for the effect of moderators through a multiparameter Wald test. Stratified analysis of a subset of quantity and frequency outcomes was conducted as a sensitivity check. RESULTS:52 trials were included contributing data on 29 891 individuals. ABIs reduced the quantity of alcohol consumed by 0.15 SDs. While neither the setting nor content appeared to significantly moderate intervention effectiveness, the provider did in some analyses. Interventions delivered by nurses had the most effect in reducing quantity (d=-0.23, 95% CI (-0.33 to -0.13)) but not frequency of alcohol consumption. All content groups had statistically significant mean effects, brief advice was the most effective in reducing quantity consumed (d=-0.20, 95% CI (-0.30 to -0.09)). Effects were maintained in the stratified sensitivity analysis at the first and last assessment time. CONCLUSIONS:ABIs play a small but significant role in reducing alcohol consumption. Findings show the positive role of nurses in delivering interventions. The lack of evidence on the impact of content of intervention reinforces advice that services should select the ABI tool that best suits their needs.