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Is emergency department based brief intervention worthwhile in adults presenting with alcohol related events?

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Report by Maria Ahmed, MPH Student

Checked by Kevin Mackway-Jones, Faculty Professor


A short cut review was carried out to establish whether emergency department (ED) based brief intervention is worthwhile in adults presenting with alcohol related events. A total of 590 papers were found using the reported search, of which eight represented the best evidence to answer the clinical question. The author, date and country of publication, patient group studied, study type, relevant outcomes, results, and study weaknesses of these best papers are presented in table 1. The clinical bottom line is that brief psychotherapeutic intervention is worthwhile in adults who attend the emergency department after an alcohol related event.

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Table 1

Three part question

In [adults presenting to the ED with an alcohol related event], is [brief intervention better than standard care] at [reducing subsequent alcohol consumption, reducing alcohol related problems, reducing ED re-attendance and improving psychosocial well-being?]

Clinical scenario

A 33-year-old man arrives at the ED having been involved in a road traffic accident while driving under the influence of alcohol. You have heard about the recent institution of an Alcohol Health Service in the department comprising two designated alcohol health workers who administer brief psychotherapeutic interventions …

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