After three months, participants in the therapist arm showed a 70 percent to 76 percent reduction in violence, including peer aggression, compared with the controls.
At six months, those in the therapist group also had a greater reduction in alcohol consequences than those in the computer intervention group, although both showed improvement.
"The therapist intervention is what showed promise for violence," Walton reported. "For alcohol, both the therapist and the computer-alone interventions were effective as compared to the brochure."
The researchers noted some limitations to the study, including self-reported data, and are now collecting 12-month follow-up data.
Walton reported that follow-up rates exceeded 85 percent in the study and that although a lot of the participants frequently moved from home to home, the researchers were able to track them down by simply calling their cell phones or by locating them on MySpace or Facebook.
How realistic is it to think emergency rooms across the country will adopt this or a similar approach?
"There is some cost. The hospital administration is not going to see the results but at the societal/community level we will definitely see results," said Dr. Michael Kamali, acting chair of the department of emergency medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center. "But if you've been in an emergency department on any given evening, there's a lot of trauma. If you can influence life-long decisions, hopefully this gives pause."
The emergency room at the University of Rochester hospital admits kids who are likely to experience another trauma within days. "It's a cooling-off period so we can avert having them be a victim again, and so they don't retaliate," said Kamali.
Walton said that some alcohol interventions were reimbursed, and that she and her colleagues are reaching out to emergency room
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