Make a tax-deductible donation today

Evaluation of opportunistic screening and brief intervention in a hospital emergency department



  1. Dr Andrew Dent, St. Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne
  2. Dr Tracey Weiland, St. Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne


Emergency department attendance with alcohol screening appears to decrease high-risk alcohol use, regardless of intervention. Emergency clinicians can be trained to deliver brief interventions; however, this strategy may be no more effective than standard care or referral for off-site motivational interviews.

Poor compliance with attendance of off-site counselling necessitates the continued investigation of on-site strategies for treating high-risk alcohol use, and hospital emergency department (ED) attendance provides an opportunity for identification of, and referral or a brief intervention for, high-risk drinking.


Over the 12 months of the study, all 32,965 attendees to the adult emergency department at St Vincent’s ED were considered eligible for screening for high-risk alcohol use, of these 10,274 (31%) were actually screened by 183 emergency clinicians and 1 046 screened positive for high-risk alcohol use. 471 attendees consented to enrolment in the study (females were less likely than males to consent) and 149 received brief interventions provided by 40 emergency clinicians. 149 participants were scheduled for off-site motivational interventions but only 15 of these attended appointments. The remaining 173 attendees received standard care, which did not include counselling for high risk alcohol use. Telephone follow-up occurred at one and three months.


Dent, AW, Weiland, TJ, Phillips, GA & Lee, NK 2007 Emergency clinician-delivered screening and intervention for high-risk alcohol use: A qualitative analysis%d4%d5. Emergency Medicine Australasia, 20(2) 121128.
Dent, AW, Weiland, TJ, Phillips, GA & Lee, NK 2008 %d0%d4Opportunistic screening and clinician-delivered brief intervention for high-risk alcohol use among emergency department attendees: A randomised controlled trial. Emergency Medicine Australasia, 20(2), 129 %d5%d0 135.

Recent research papers

FARE continues to fund and undertake research that contributes to the knowledge-base about alcohol harms and strategies to reduce them.

This research is used to inform our approach to evidence-based alcohol policy development, ensuring that the solutions we are advocating for are informed by research. FARE’s research is also often quoted by governments, other not-for-profit organisations and researchers in public discussions about alcohol, demonstrating that FARE is seen as a leading source of information.

Join our community

Will you join the community taking action on alcohol?

Join our community

Fill out the form below to receive regular updates & resources.

Join our community

Get updates & resources straight to your inbox