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Brief alcohol counseling improves mental health functioning in veterans with alcohol misuse: results from a randomized trial.

Cucciare MA, Boden MT, Weingardt KR. Brief alcohol counseling improves mental health functioning in veterans with alcohol misuse: results from a randomized trial. Journal of affective disorders. 2013 May 1; 147(1-3):312-7.

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BACKGROUND: Alcohol misuse occurs at high rates among U.S. Military Veterans presenting to primary care and is linked to numerous negative social and health consequences. The Veterans Health Administration has recently implemented brief alcohol interventions (BAI) in VA primary care settings. An emerging literature suggests that BAIs that target alcohol consumption may also have secondary health benefits such as reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety in civilian samples. The present study sought to examine whether secondary health benefits of BAIs observed in civilians generalize to a sample of alcohol misusing Veterans presenting to primary care. METHODS: Veterans (N = 167) screening positive for alcohol misuse during a routine primary care visit were randomized to receive treatment-as-usual (TAU) or TAU plus a web-delivered BAI. Assessment of overall mental health functioning, posttraumatic stress disorder, and depression occurred at baseline, three- and six-month post-treatment. RESULTS: Veterans receiving both BAI protocols demonstrated significant improvements in mental health functioning, depressive symptoms, and use of approach coping from baseline to six-month follow-up. No differential treatment effects on these outcomes were observed. LIMITATIONS: Findings are limited by the lack of a no-treatment control group, and the potential impact of regression to the mean and assessment effects on outcomes. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings replicate prior studies suggesting that a single-dose BAI may have some secondary mental health benefits for Veterans presenting to primary care with alcohol misuse.

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