Brief Interventions to Decrease Alcohol Misuse in Women

FASD prevention can be approached from many levels. For example, Poole (2008) discusses four levels of FASD prevention:

Level 1 – Broad awareness building, health promotion efforts, and public policy
Level 2 – Brief Counselling with Girls and Women of Childbearing Age
Level 3 – Specialized Prenatal Support
Level 4 – Postpartum Support

Levels of FASD Prevention_Poole 2008

Level 2 focuses on ensuring girls and women of childbearing years have the opportunity for safe discussion about reproductive health, contraception, pregnancy, alcohol use, and related issues, with their support networks and healthcare providers.

Overall, research evidence supports screening and brief interventions for alcohol misuse as efficacious and cost-effective in a variety of settings. While there are many variations in “brief intervention” approaches, most are grounded in social-cognitive theory and commonly incorporate elements of motivational interviewing. Brief interventions often provide feedback on alcohol use (e.g., is it considered “risky”?), information on the effects and possible consequences of alcohol use, and discussion of possible strategies to moderate or reduce alcohol use.

A recent systematic review by Gebara et al (2013) specifically examines brief interventions to reduce at-risk drinking in women, including studies related to alcohol use during pregnancy. They found that many types of brief interventions could be effective for women, e.g., face-to-face or by computer or telephone, and resulted in changes in both in the number of days of consumption and in the number of doses, or both.

For more on this topic, see earlier posts:


Gebara, C., Bhona, F., Ronzani, T., Lourenço, L. and Noto, A. (2013). Brief intervention and decrease of alcohol consumption among women: a systematic review. Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy, 8: 31  doi:10.1186/1747-597X-8-31

Poole, N. (2008). Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Prevention: Canadian Perspectives. Ottawa, ON: Public Health Agency of Canada

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