Promoting self-change with alcohol abusers: A community-level mail intervention based on natural recovery studies

TitlePromoting self-change with alcohol abusers: A community-level mail intervention based on natural recovery studies
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2002
AuthorsSobell, LC, Sobell, MB, Leo, GI, Agrawal, S, Johnson-Young, L, Cunningham, JA
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Date PublishedJun
Publication Languageeng
ISBN Number0145-6008 (Print)0145-6008 (Linking)
Accession Number12068264
Keywords*Motivation, Adult, Alcoholism/economics/epidemiology/psychology/*therapy, Analysis of Variance, Chi-Square Distribution, Costs and Cost Analysis/economics, Female, Follow-Up Studies, Guidelines as Topic, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Questionnaires, Residence Characteristics/statistics & numerical data, Self Care/economics/*methods/psychology/statistics & numerical data

BACKGROUND: By using a public health approach to the treatment of alcohol problems, this study analyzed the efficacy and cost analysis of two versions of a community-level mail intervention to promote self-change among alcohol abusers who had never sought help or treatment. METHODS: A total of 825 participants who responded to media solicitations were randomly assigned to one of two interventions: (a) for bibliotherapy/drinking guidelines (n = 411), they were given two pamphlets with information about the effects of alcohol and guidelines for low-risk drinking and self-monitoring, and (b) for motivational enhancement/personalized feedback (n = 414), personalized advice/feedback was provided on the basis of the participants' assessment of their drinking and related behaviors. RESULTS: Although both groups exhibited significant reductions in drinking from 1 year before to 1 year after intervention, there were no significant differences between the two interventions for any variable. This suggests that the materials, irrespective of whether they were personalized, facilitated the reduction of drinking. Cost analysis revealed that a brief mail intervention could reduce drinking at a very low cost per participant (US$46 to US$97). CONCLUSIONS: A brief community-level mail intervention for problem drinkers who had never sought treatment resulted in sizable reductions in alcohol use over the year after the intervention compared with the year before. Furthermore, many of those with poorer outcomes engaged in a natural stepped-care process by seeking help. These results, coupled with the low cost to deliver the intervention, suggest that public health campaigns could have a substantial effect on reducing alcohol problems and associated costs as well as getting some individuals into treatment. Such an approach would represent a shift from the alcohol field's long-standing clinical focus to a broader public health perspective.

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