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Reducing Alcohol Use Before and After Surgery: Qualitative Study of Two Treatment Approaches.

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BACKGROUND: High-risk alcohol use is a common preventable risk factor for postoperative complications, admission to intensive care, and longer hospital stays. Short-term abstinence from alcohol use (2 to 4 weeks) prior to surgery is linked to a lower likelihood of postoperative complications. OBJECTIVE: The study aimed to explore the acceptability and feasibility of 2 brief counseling approaches to reduce alcohol use in elective surgical patients with high-risk alcohol use in the perioperative period. METHODS: A semistructured interview study was conducted with a group of high responders (who reduced alcohol use ≥50% postbaseline) and low responders (who reduced alcohol use by ≤25% postbaseline) after their completion of a pilot trial to explore the acceptability and perceived impacts on drinking behaviors of the 2 counseling interventions delivered remotely by phone or video call. Interview transcripts were analyzed using thematic analysis. RESULTS: In total, 19 participants (10 high responders and 9 low responders) from the parent trial took part in interviews. Three main themes were identified: (1) the intervention content was novel and impactful, (2) the choice of intervention modality enhanced participant engagement in the intervention, and (3) factors external to the interventions also influenced alcohol use. CONCLUSIONS: The findings support the acceptability of both high- and low-intensity brief counseling approaches. Elective surgical patients are interested in receiving alcohol-focused education, and further research is needed to test the effectiveness of these interventions in reducing drinking before and after surgery. TRIAL REGISTRATION: NCT03929562;

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