International Journal of Public Health

, Volume 57, Issue 6, pp 935–944 | Cite as

A quasi-randomized group trial of a brief alcohol intervention on risky single occasion drinking among secondary school students

  • Gerhard Gmel
  • Vigeli Venzin
  • Katrin Marmet
  • George Danko
  • Florian Labhart
Original Article



To show the effectiveness of a brief group alcohol intervention. Aims of the intervention were to reduce the frequency of heavy drinking occasions, maximum number of drinks on an occasion and overall weekly consumption.


A cluster quasi-randomized control trial (intervention n = 338; control n = 330) among 16- to 18-year-old secondary school students in the Swiss Canton of Zürich. Groups homogeneous for heavy drinking occasions (5+/4+ drinks for men/women) consisted of those having medium risk (3–4) or high risk (5+) occasions in the past 30 days. Groups of 8–10 individuals received two 45-min sessions based on motivational interviewing techniques.


Borderline significant beneficial effects (p < 0.10) on heavy drinking occasions and alcohol volume were found 6 months later for the medium-risk group only, but not for the high-risk group. None of the effects remained significant after Bonferroni corrections.


Group intervention was ineffective for all at-risk users. The heaviest drinkers may need more intensive treatment. Alternative explanations were iatrogenic effects among the heaviest drinkers, assessment reactivity, or reduction of social desirability bias at follow-up through peer feedback.


Group randomized trial Brief alcohol intervention Risky single occasion drinking Secondary school students 


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Copyright information

© Swiss School of Public Health 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gerhard Gmel
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Vigeli Venzin
    • 5
  • Katrin Marmet
    • 5
  • George Danko
    • 6
  • Florian Labhart
    • 1
  1. 1.Research DepartmentAddiction SwitzerlandLausanneSwitzerland
  2. 2.Alcohol Treatment CenterLausanne University HospitalLausanneSwitzerland
  3. 3.Centre for Addiction and Mental HealthTorontoCanada
  4. 4.University of the West of New EnglandBristolUK
  5. 5.Cantonal Office for Secondary Education ZürichZurichSwitzerland
  6. 6.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of CaliforniaSan DiegoUSA

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