Executive Summary

Findings from a large, randomized clinical trial suggest that the use of an ED-based motivational intervention is not sufficient to reduce incidents of heavy drinking or intimate partner violence (IPV) among women who present to the ED. Investigators have found that while heavy drinking and incidents of IPV declined in all groups being evaluated, the intervention, which involved a 20- to 30-minute motivational interview by a masters-prepared social worker and a follow-up reinforcement call, did not make a difference in outcomes. Investigators conclude that more comprehensive solutions are needed.

  • Participants for the study were recruited from two urban-area EDs in Philadelphia between January 2011 and December 2014. Patients were randomized to an intervention group or one of two control groups.
  • At one year post-enrollment, nearly half (45%) of all the study participants reported no incidents of IPV in the previous three months, and the researchers found that 22% of all participants were consuming alcohol at safe drinking levels. However, there was no evidence that the intervention influenced outcomes.
  • Investigators recommend EDs set up routine screening to identify IPV and co-occurring psychosocial risk factors, and train social workers and IPV advocates to perform safety assessments and provide referrals for more intensive, evidence-based interventions that are tailored to the patient’s needs and goals.