Researchers: Richard Longabaugh, EdD; Robert Woolard, MD; Ted Nirenberg, PhD; Allison Minugh, PhD; Bruce Becker, MD, MPH; Patrick Clifford, PhD; Kathleen Carty, LICSW; Frank Sparadeo, PhD and Aruna Gogineni, PhD
Injury Prevention Center research has found that more than one-fifth of subcritically injured people who come to hospital emergency departments are intoxicated. And, a single alcohol-related emergency department visit is a strong predictor of continued problem drinking, alcohol-impaired driving and future injury. Therefore, a visit to an emergency department can be an excellent opportunity for intervention.
So, once the doctor has attended to the physical damage, what can be done to tackle the patient's drinking problem? In a study funded by the National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, researchers from the Injury Prevention Center and Brown University Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies demonstrated that injured patients with an alcohol use problem who received a brief motivational intervention in the emergency department, followed up by a booster session, significantly reduced their alcohol-related injuries and other negative consequences.
The researchers' theory is that the proximity of injury and intervention creates a "teachable moment," giving the interventionist an opportunity to help patients explore their drinking patterns and motivate them to plan to reduce negative consequences from drinking in the future.