Ann Arbor, Mich. A brief, motivational talk in the emergency room reduced by half the chances that teenagers would experience peer violence or problems due to drinking, according to a study published Aug. 4 in a theme issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The special issue on violence and human rights includes the work of University of Michigan Health System researchers who immersed themselves at the Hurley Medical Center Emergency Department, in Flint, Mich., for three years.
Researchers offered help to 726 adolescents, ages 14-18, who reported they experienced aggression or had a drink of beer, wine or liquor at least two or three times in the past year.
A one-on-one talk with a therapist resulted in a 34 percent reduction in peer aggression. Teens who received only a brochure had a 16 percent drop in aggression over the next three months.
The study showed similar drops in alcohol use after teens heard prevention messages delivered by a therapist or while using a role-playing computer program.
"Violence and alcohol use are preventable behaviors and the emergency department can be a key location for reaching high-risk teenagers," says senior author Rebecca Cunningham, M.D., an emergency room physician and director of the University of Michigan Injury Research Center.
Violence and injuries are the leading causes of deaths among adolescents in the United States and the incidents are often fueled by alcohol. The U-M study showed ED interventions can also reduce alcohol-related problems by as much as 32 percent for six months.
The talks with teens were more complex than a parent talking to a child about the dangers of drinking and how to avoid peer pressure.
"Therapists used motivational interviewing which is well-suited for adolescent development," says study lead author Maureen Walton, M.P.H., Ph.D., research associate professor in the U-M Department of Psychia
|Contact: Margarita B. Wagerson|
University of Michigan Health System