ER Intervention Addresses Aggression, Alcohol in Teens

May reduce aggression and alcohol consequences in those reporting issues in past year
By Eric Metcalf
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Aug. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Among adolescents seen in the emergency department and reporting recent alcohol use and aggression, a brief intervention may reduce both aggression and alcohol consequences, according to research published in the Aug. 4 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Maureen A. Walton, Ph.D., of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues analyzed data from 726 patients aged 14 to 18 who presented to an emergency department and reported alcohol use and aggression during the previous year. The patients were randomized to receive a 35-minute intervention from a therapist or delivered via computer, or were given a brochure as a control.

The researchers found that, at three months, those in the therapist-intervention group reported reductions in peer aggression, experiencing peer violence, and violence consequences compared to controls. At six months, the therapist-intervention group had a reduction in alcohol consequences compared to controls. Those in the computer-intervention group also reported reductions in alcohol consequences at six months compared to controls.

"Although computerized intervention seems more likely to be disseminated successfully than a 35-minute expert therapist-delivered session, the computer intervention used in the study by Walton et al affected only one secondary violence outcome (a decrease in being a recipient of peer violence) at one time point. However, the computer intervention was associated with a decrease in alcohol consequences, which is a potentially promising use for this intervention," write the authors of an accompanying editorial.

An editorial author disclosed relationships with Fusion medical education and Saatchi and Saatchi Healthcare and has participated in legal cases involving identification and management of alcohol and drug problems.

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