Randomized controlled trial of two brief alcohol interventions for OEF/OIF veterans


Objective: The purpose of this study was to test the efficacy of 2 brief interventions for alcohol misuse in a sample of combat veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Method: Participants were 68 combat veterans (91.2% male; 64.7% White, 27.9% Black) with a mean age of 32.31 years (SD = 8.84) who screened positive for hazardous drinking in a Veterans Affairs Medical Center primary care clinic using the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (Babor, Higgins-Biddle, Saunders, & Monteiro, 2001). More than half of the sample (57.4%) met criteria for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD; based on the Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale; Blake et al., 1995). Eligible veterans who elected to participate completed a baseline assessment and were randomized to receive 1 of 2 interventions (personalized feedback delivered with or without a motivational interviewing counseling session). Both interventions included information on hazardous drinking, PTSD symptoms, depression, and coping. Follow-up assessments were conducted at 6 weeks and 6 months post-intervention. Results: Both conditions resulted in statistically significant reductions in quantity and frequency of alcohol use as well as frequency of binge drinking and alcohol-related consequences. Within-group effect sizes (ds) were in the small to medium range (.21-.55) for quantity and frequency of alcohol use. There were no statistically significant Condition × Time interactions, suggesting that both interventions were similarly effective. PTSD and non-PTSD veterans responded equally well to both interventions, but veterans with PTSD assigned to feedback plus motivational interviewing reported greater reductions in weekly drinking at the 6-week follow-up. Conclusions: These findings suggest that brief interventions for alcohol misuse may be effective for reducing drinking, even in an Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran population with a high degree of PTSD. © 2014 APA.

Publication Title

Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology