Improving the identification and management of alcohol misuse is a VA priority. Alcohol misuse includes the spectrum of alcohol consumption ranging from hazardous drinking to alcohol use disorders (alcohol abuse and dependence). The VA recommends using a set of clinical strategies referred to as Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) to identify and address alcohol misuse in primary care settings. Brief intervention (BI), a core component of SBIRT, significantly reduces alcohol consumption, morbidity, and healthcare utilization in hazardous drinkers, but its efficacy is not well-established outside of outpatient settings. In the hospital setting, nurses are well-positioned to deliver BI, but research is needed to determine the efficacy of inpatient nurse-delivered BI, particularly with hazardous drinkers. The few previous trials of BI in the inpatient setting demonstrated limited effects on alcohol consumption and alcohol-related problems, potentially due to assessment reactivity--extensive patient assessment that inadvertently raises patient awareness about drinking in both groups, mimicking the effect of BI and thus driving findings towards the null. Additionally, very few of these trials involved nurse delivery of the intervention and many included patients with alcohol use disorders, patients believed to be beyond the "therapeutic reach" of BI. The primary goal of this 3-arm randomized controlled trial is to examine the efficacy of nurse-delivered alcohol BI with hospitalized patients who are hazardous drinkers and to identify barriers and facilitators to implementation of BI in inpatient settings. Arm 1 (BI) consists of Veterans randomized to nurse-delivered BI, Arm 2 (AC) consists of Veterans randomized to an attention control, and Arm 3 (AC-LA) consists of Veterans randomized to an attention control with limited assessment of readiness to change and adverse consequences of alcohol use so as to reduce and evaluate assessment reactivity.
Specific Aim 1 is to determine the impact of a nurse-led BI on the alcohol screening status, number of drinks/week, number of binge drinking episodes, readiness to change drinking behavior, and adverse consequences of alcohol use in hospitalized hazardous drinkers.
Specific Aim 2 is to formatively evaluate the process of the intervention implementation to inform the design and execution of a future, multi-site randomized effectiveness trial of the intervention. We will recruit 320 hospitalized Veterans admitted to one of the three medical-surgical units at the VA Pitts- burgh Healthcare System. Veterans will be included who are >21 years old, able to speak English, and are hazardous, non-dependent drinkers, as defined by criteria established by the National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and by the Composite International Diagnostic Interview Substance Abuse Module. Patients randomized to Arm 1 will receive a three-part nurse-delivered BI. Patients randomized to Arms 2 and 3 will receive usual care plus healthy lifestyle brochures addressing general healthy lifestyle behaviors, such as limited alcohol consumption, tobacco cessation, and weight management.
For Specific Aim 1, we will use various multivariable linear and logistic regressions that account for continuous outcomes, dichotomous outcomes, and clustering within medical units. Poisson regressions or negative binomial regressions will be used if the continuous outcome measures are not normally distributed.
For Specific Aim 2, we will use basic descriptive statistics in order to describe the numbers of deviations and interruptions to intervention delivery as planned. Based on interventionist field notes, we will categorize the types of deviations/interruptions. We will also use these descriptive statistics to describe duration of the audio-recorded intervention; the presence/absence of various techniques within the BI;the receipt/non-receipt of additional alcohol feedback, advice, or counseling;and patient responsiveness to/perceptions of the BI. We will also code brief free-text perceptions responses using a modified grounded theory approach.
Veterans drink, binge drink, and drive under the influence of alcohol at higher rates than non- Veterans do. Addressing alcohol misuse, the range of alcohol consumption from risky drinking to alcohol abuse and alcoholism, is a national priority for the VA. It is recommended that people keep their alcohol consumption below limits established by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). A type of 10-15 minute counseling known as brief intervention (BI) has been shown to help risky drinkers cut back to the NIH-recommended limits. This study will examine the impact of a nurse-delivered alcohol BI on hospitalized Veterans'weekly number of drinks, monthly number of binge drinking episodes, readiness to change drinking behavior, and alcohol-related problems. This preventative approach for reducing alcohol consumption is intended to help Veterans avoid many of the physical and psychosocial consequences of alcohol misuse.