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The Effect of a Patient-Provider Educational Intervention to Reduce At-Risk Drinking on Changes in Health and Health-Related Quality of Life Among Older Adults: The Project SHARE Study

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Background: At-risk drinking, defined as alcohol use that is excessive or potentially harmful in combination with select comorbidities or medications, affects about 10% of older adults in the United States and is associated with higher mortality. The Project SHARE intervention, which uses patient and provider educational materials, physician counseling, and health educator support, was designed to reduce at-risk drinking among this vulnerable population. Although an earlier study showed that this intervention was successful in reducing rates of at-risk drinking, it is unknown whether these reductions translate into improved health and health-related quality of life (HRQL). Objective: The aim of this study was to examine changes in health and HRQL of older adult at-risk drinkers resulting from a patient-provider educational intervention. Research design: A randomized controlled trial to compare the health and HRQL outcomes of patients assigned to the Project SHARE intervention vs. care as usual at baseline, 6- and 12-months post assignment. Control patients received usual care, which may or may not have included alcohol counseling. Intervention group patients received a personalized patient report, educational materials on alcohol and aging, a brief provider intervention, and a telephone health educator intervention. Subjects: Current drinkers 60. years and older accessing primary care clinics around Santa Barbara, California (N= 1049). Measurements: Data were collected from patients using baseline, 6- and 12-month mail surveys. Health and HRQL measures included mental and physical component scores (MCS and PCS) based on the Short Form-12v2 (SF-12v2), the SF-6D, which is also based on the SF-12, and the Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS). Adjusted associations of treatment assignment with these outcomes were estimated using generalized least squares regressions with random provider effects. Regressions controlled for age group, sex, race/ethnicity, marital status, education, household income, home ownership and the baseline value of the dependent variable. Results: After regression adjustment, the intervention was associated with a 0.58 point (95% CI: -0.06, 1.21) increase in 6-month MCS and a 0.14 point (95% CI: 0.01, 0.26) improvement in 12-month GDS score, compared to the control group. The intervention also increased adjusted SF-6D scores by 0.01 points at both 6 and 12. months (6-month 95% CI: 0.01, 0.02; 12-month 95% CI: 0.01, 0.01). Conclusions: Despite the previously shown effectiveness of the Project SHARE intervention to reduce at-risk drinking among older adults, this effect translated into effects on health and HRQL that were statistically but not necessarily clinically significant. Effects were most prominent for patients who received physician discussions, suggesting that provider counseling may be a critical component of primary care-based interventions targeting at-risk alcohol use.

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