Prevention and Management of Alcohol Problems in Older Adults
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Prevention and Management of Alcohol Problems in Older Adults

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Developed by: University of Michigan
Year Program First Implemented: 1999


The brief alcohol intervention approach is designed specifically for an older adult population and relies on concepts of motivational interviewing to enhance participants’ commitment to change their behavior. Program components include: alcohol screening, assessments, brief interventions, and a guide to referral for more intensive care.

Supporting Evidence:

A randomized, controlled trial design was used to determine the effectiveness of screening and brief interventions with at-risk drinking older adults in community settings.

Older adults, age 60 and older, were recruited, screened, and randomly assigned to an intervention or a control group. There were a total of 4,322 screened. A total of 3,330 (77%) older adults were abstinent; of those who drank below the limits to enter the study (n=795), average consumption was 3.85 drinks/week (s.d.=2.49). There were 164 older adults that entered the study (Intervention: n=74; Control: n=90), consuming an average of 19.32 (intervention) and 16.53 (control) drinks/week at baseline. The intervention group received a brief counseling intervention conducted by health and social providers.

At 6-month follow- up, the intervention group decreased their drinking by 40%; the control group decreased their drinking by 28%, with no significant overall differences between the intervention and control groups in terms of change in alcohol consumption over the course of the study.

There were statistically significant decreases in alcohol consumption for the intervention compared to the control group in two areas: days drinking liquor and beers consumed per day. Days drinking liquor significantly decreased most for African Americans compared to Caucasians.


Fleming, Michael F. MD, MPH; Manwell, Linda Baier; Barry, Kristen Lawton PhD; Adams, Wendy MD, MPH; Stauffacher, Ellyn A. Brief Physician Advice for Alcohol Problems in Older Adults: A Randomized Community-Based Trial. The Journal of Family Practice. (May 1999) 48 (5): 378-384. [Online]:


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