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Physician Advice Reduces Alcohol Consumption, Says New Study


September-October 1997

Physician advice can reduce alcohol consumption, according to data from Project TrEAT (Trial for Early Alcohol Treatment) analyzed by Michael F. Fleming, MD, MPH, and his colleagues at the University of Wisconsin Medical School (Dr. Micheal Fleming, et al., "Brief physician advice for problem alcohol drinkers: A randomized controlled trial in community-based primary care practices," Journal of the American Medical Association, 277:1039-1045, 1997; "U.S. trial confirms value of physician advice to reduce drinking, Brown University Digest of Addiction Theory and Application, August 1997, p. 5).

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, was based on a comparison of 774 "problem drinkers," defined as women who consume more than 11 drinks per week and men who consume more than 14 drinks per week. 381 of the participants were assigned to the control group and 391 were assigned to the experimental group. Participants in the control group were given a health booklet on lifestyle risks and decisions. The experimental group received the same booklet, and received two 15-minute counseling sessions with their primary physicians.

The study concluded that "there were large decreases in all alcohol use variables in all the groups at 6 and 12 months." While both groups experienced noticeable reduction in drinking, researchers found that "the experimental group reduced their alcohol use more than the control group." Women in the experimental group experienced the greatest reduction, cutting their use by 47%, while the men in the experimental group reduced consumption by 37%. In the control group, women reduced their alcohol consumption by 6%, and men reduced their consumption by 23%.

The authors, said the study "supports the implementation of screening, assessment, and brief intervention for all patients who seek health care services in primary care community-based settings."

Dr. Michael Fleming - 777 S. Mills St., Madison, WI 53715.