To evaluate and optimize brief alcohol interventions (BAIs), it is critical to have a credible overall effect size estimate as a benchmark. Estimating such an effect size has been challenging because alcohol outcomes often represent responses from a mixture of individuals: those at high risk for alcohol misuse, occasional nondrinkers, and abstainers. Moreover, some BAIs exclusively focus on heavy drinkers, whereas others take a universal prevention approach. Depending on sample characteristics, the outcome distribution might have many zeros or very few zeros and overdispersion; consequently, the most appropriate statistical model may differ across studies. We synthesized individual participant data (IPD) from 19 studies in Project INTEGRATE (Mun et al., 2015b) that randomly allocated participants to intervention and control groups (N = 7,704 participants, 38.4% men, 74.7% White, 58.5% first-year students). We sequentially estimated marginalized zero-inflated Poisson (Long et al., 2014) or negative binomial regression models to obtain covariate-adjusted, study-specific intervention effect estimates in the first step, which were subsequently combined in a random-effects meta-analysis model in the second step. BAIs produced a statistically significant 8% advantage in the mean number of drinks at both 1–3 months (RR = 0.92, 95% CI = [0.85, 0.98]) and 6 months (RR = 0.92, 95% CI = [0.85, 0.99]) compared to controls. At 9–12 months, there was no statistically significant difference in the mean number of drinks between BAIs and controls. In conclusion, BAIs are effective at reducing the mean number of drinks through at least 6 months post intervention. IPD can play a critical role in deriving findings that could not be obtained in original individual studies or standard aggregate data meta-analyses.
- Brief alcohol intervention
- Brief motivational intervention
- College students
- Individual participant data
- Integrative data analysis