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One Therapy Session in ER Can Cut Teen Violence
Date:8/3/2010

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Aug. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Having a therapist talk to kids who go to an emergency room with a violent injury and who also admit to previous alcohol use can reduce repeat episodes, new research finds.

The authors calculated that for every 10 kids seen, a single 30-minute intervention would prevent one violent episode in the future.

The study was funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

"The leading cause of death for adolescents who reside in inner city settings is violence and other injuries," said Maureen Walton, lead author of a study appearing in the Aug. 4 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. "These adolescents are less likely to attend school regularly, they're not likely to have a primary care physician and the emergency room is a popular place for a variety of reasons. We decided this would be a good setting for prevention."

Previous studies had shown good results from similar interventions addressing alcohol but no studies have yet looked at violence. These authors combined the two.

"Kids who drink are also likely to fight, whether they actually drink at the time of the fight, and are likely to be involved in other problematic behaviors," Walton explained.

These authors tested outcomes of a program called SafERteens. The study involved more than 700 kids aged 14 to 18 who had visited an emergency department in Flint, Mich., from noon and 11 p.m. any day of the week between September 2006 and September 2009.

Kids who admitted to using alcohol or being involved in a fight in the past year were randomly assigned to three groups: one in which kids talked with a therapist (along with computerized feedback and structure); a computer-only group in which a virtual "buddy" walked kids through a set of questions including some about goals and reasons to avoid drinking to reach those goals; an
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