Posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms improve after an integrated brief alcohol intervention for OEF/OIF/OND veterans


Objective: Although brief alcohol interventions (BAIs) that incorporate personalized feedback demonstrate efficacy for reducing the frequency and quantity of alcohol consumption in veteran samples, little research has explored the influence of BAIs in reducing symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The goal of this investigation was to understand whether PTSD symptom severity and diagnostic status changed after exposure to an intervention that targeted alcohol misuse and integrated feedback on PTSD. Method: Sixty-eight combat veterans (8.8% female; 27.9% African American) who screened positive for hazardous drinking were recruited from a Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Participants received a 1-session brief intervention that primarily targeted alcohol misuse but also included personalized feedback and psychoeducation on PTSD symptoms and coping. Participants were randomized to receive personalized written feedback either with or without a motivational interview. Results: A mixed-model repeated measures analysis revealed that PTSD symptom severity was significantly lower at the 6-week (M = 41.47, SD = 28.94) and 6-month (M = 35.56 SD = 26.99) follow-up appointments relative to baseline (M = 51.22, SD = 26.67), F(2, 127.24) = 38.32, p < .001. Regression analyses demonstrate that the percent change in alcohol use was related to the change in PTSD severity. Further, results indicated that a motivational-interviewing-style counseling session accompanying the feedback was not significantly more efficacious than receiving feedback only. Conclusion: A brief alcohol intervention that integrates information on PTSD has the potential to reduce PTSD severity. Personalized alcohol and PTSD feedback may be useful as an opportunistic intervention for OEF/OIF veterans.

Publication Title

Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy