Interventions for preventing injuries in problem drinkers.

T. Dinh-Zarr, C. Goss, E. Heitman, I. Roberts, C. DiGuiseppi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Alcohol consumption has been linked with injuries through motor vehicle crashes, falls, drowning, fires and burns, and violence. In the US, half of the estimated 100,000 deaths attributed to alcohol each year are due to intentional and unintentional injuries. The identification of effective interventions for the reduction of unintentional and intentional injuries due to problem drinking is, therefore, an important public health goal. OBJECTIVES: To assess the effect of interventions for problem drinking on subsequent injury risk. SEARCH STRATEGY: We searched 12 twelve computerized databases: MEDLINE (1966-8/96), EMBASE (1982-1/97), Cochrane Controlled Trials Register (1997, issue #1), PsycINFO (1967-1/97), CINAHL (1982-10/96), ERIC (1966-12/96), Dissertation Abstracts International (1861-11/96), IBSS (1961-1/97), ISTP (1982-1/97) and three specialized transportation databases, using terms for problem drinking combined with terms for controlled trials; bibliographies of relevant trials; and contact with authors and government agencies. The electronic and bibliographic searches were updated in May 2002. SELECTION CRITERIA: Randomized controlled trials of interventions among participants with problem drinking, which are intended to reduce alcohol consumption or to prevent injuries or their antecedents, and which measured injury-related outcomes. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Two authors extracted data on participants, interventions, follow-up, allocation concealment, and outcomes, and independently rated allocation concealment quality. MAIN RESULTS: Of 23 eligible trials identified, 22 had been completed and 17 provided results for relevant outcomes. Completed trials of problem drinkers that compared interventions for problem drinking to no intervention reported reduced motor-vehicle crashes and related injuries, falls, suicide attempts, domestic violence, assaults and child abuse, alcohol-related injuries and injury emergency visits, hospitalizations and deaths. Reductions ranged from 27% to 65%. Because few trials were sufficiently large to assess effects on injuries, individual effect estimates were generally imprecise. We did not combine the results quantitatively because the interventions, patient populations, and outcomes were so diverse. The most commonly evaluated intervention was brief counseling in the clinical setting. This was studied in seven trials, in which injury-related deaths were reduced: relative risk (RR) 0.65; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.21 to 2.00. However, this reduction may have been due to chance. The majority of trials of brief counseling also showed beneficial effects on diverse non-fatal injury outcomes. REVIEWERS' CONCLUSIONS: Interventions for problem drinking appear to reduce injuries and their antecedents (e.g. falls, motor vehicle crashes, suicide attempts). Because injuries account for much of the morbidity and mortality from problem drinking, larger studies are warranted to evaluate the effect of treating problem drinking on injuries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)CD001857
JournalCochrane database of systematic reviews (Online)
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)


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