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Open Access Open Badges Research

Brief alcohol intervention in a psychiatric outpatient setting: a randomized controlled study

Christina Nehlin12*, Leif Grönbladh12, Anders Fredriksson1 and Lennart Jansson1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Neuroscience, Psychiatry, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden

2 Uppsala University Hospital, Uppsala, Sweden

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Addiction Science & Clinical Practice 2012, 7:23  doi:10.1186/1940-0640-7-23

Published: 29 October 2012



Although brief alcohol intervention (BI) is widely studied, studies from psychiatric outpatient settings are rare. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of two variants of BI in psychiatric outpatients. By using clinical psychiatric staff to perform the interventions, we sought to collect information of the usefulness of BI in the clinical setting.


Psychiatric outpatients with Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) scores indicating hazardous or harmful drinking were invited to participate in the study. The outpatients were randomized to minimal (assessment, feedback, and an informational leaflet) or BI (personalized advice added). Measurements were performed at baseline and at six and 12 months after the intervention. The primary outcome was change in AUDIT score at the 12-month follow-up.


In all, 150 patients were enrolled and received either a minimal intervention (n = 68) or BI (n = 82). At 12 months, there was a small reduction in AUDIT score in both groups, with no significant differences in outcome between groups. At 12-month follow-up, 21% of participants had improved from a hazardous AUDIT score level to a nonhazardous level, and 8% had improved from a harmful level to a hazardous level (8%).


Brief alcohol interventions may result in a reduction of AUDIT score to a small extent in psychiatric patients with hazardous or harmful alcohol use. Results suggest that BI may be of some value in the psychiatric outpatient setting. Still, more profound forms of alcohol interventions with risky-drinking psychiatric patients need elaboration.

Brief intervention; Alcohol intervention; Hazardous use; Harmful use; Psychiatric outpatients