Are brief alcohol interventions targeting alcohol use efficacious in military and veteran populations? A meta-analysis*

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Background: Rates of hazardous and harm-related drinking are higher in the military and veteran populations compared to the general population. Brief alcohol interventions (BAIs) targeting alcohol use appear to reduce harmful drinking in the general population. However, less is known about the efficacy of BAIs targeting alcohol in military and veteran populations.

Methods: A systematic review and meta-analysis was conducted to assess the type and efficacy of BAIs used to reduce alcohol use in military and veteran populations conducted from 2000 onwards. The meta-analysis was conducted using a standardised outcome measure of change in average weekly drinks (AWDs) from baseline to follow-up.

Results: The search revealed 10 papers that met the search criteria, and that reported data on 11 interventions included in the systematic review. 8 papers (reporting on 9 different interventions) were included in the meta-analysis after 2 papers were excluded for which the relevant outcome data were not available. There was no overall effect of BAIs; a non-significant weekly drink reduction of 0.95 drinks was found (95% CI, −0.17 to 2.07). This lack of efficacy persisted regardless of military group (conscripts, serving or veterans) and method of delivery (i.e., face-to-face, web-based or written information). Furthermore, sensitivity analyses revealed this small drink reduction was driven mainly by a single study.

Conclusions: Based on these findings, existing BAIs do not seem to be efficacious in reducing alcohol use in military populations, despite some encouraging results from one electronic intervention which was of extensive duration.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)571-578
JournalDrug and alcohol dependence
Early online date4 Jun 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2017


  • alcohol
  • brief alcohol intervention
  • military
  • meta-analysis


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