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Effects of a brief intervention for reducing violence and alcohol misuse among adolescents: a randomized trial

Maureen A. Walton, Stephen T. Chermack, Jean T. Shope, Raymond Bingham, Marc A. Zimmerman, Frederic C. Blow, Rebecca M. Cunningham

JAMA 2010, Volume 304, pages 527–535

Editorial comment
A leading cause of mortality and morbidity in adolescents is violence, and adolescents seeking care in the emergency department are an important population for injury prevention based on increased risk for problems related to alcohol and violence. The objective of this US study was to assess the efficacy of single-session brief interventions addressing violence and alcohol among adolescents with self-reported alcohol use and aggression who sought acute general emergency department care. Data were collected for interventions delivered by a therapist or by stand-alone interactive animated program delivered by a computer. The authors found that brief interventions delivered by a therapist in this setting were associated with a clinically meaningful reduction in the occurrence of violence. To prevent severe peer aggression in 1 adolescent, only 8 at-risk adolescents (with past year alcohol use and aggression) would need to receive the brief intervention delivered by a therapist. At 6 months, participants in the therapist and computer conditions were less likely to report alcohol-related consequences than controls. Especially if designed to be easily incorporated into emergency department practice, these approaches can result in substantial public health benefits.

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