Study designs of evaluations included in the review
The inclusion criteria were not specified in terms of study design. The included studies were randomised controlled trials (RCTs) or quasi-RCTs, although their designs were unclear. One study randomised study locations.
Specific interventions included in the review
Studies that compared BIs with no advice or usual care, or compared different levels of advice, were eligible for inclusion. The interventions could target specific drugs or multiple substances. The review defined a BI as a maximum of four intervention sessions, including booster or follow-up sessions. Treatment could also use supplementary materials. Studies of school curriculum-based interventions were excluded.
The interventions in the included studies were located in universities, schools, out-patient departments, hospital emergency departments, specialist treatment centres and community-based clinics. The interventions included programmes based on motivational interviewing, the Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students (BASICS) programme, personalised health information, and the Start Taking Alcohol Seriously (STARS) programme. Nurses, physicians and the participants' peers delivered the interventions. Most of the included studies were conducted in the USA.
Participants included in the review
Studies of groups with a mean age of less than 20 years were eligible for inclusion. The participants in included studies included substance users, high-risk alcohol users and students.
Outcomes assessed in the review
Studies that only assessed attitudinal outcomes rather than behavioural outcomes were excluded. The duration of follow-up ranged from 6 weeks to 24 months. The included studies assessed alcohol, tobacco and substance use using a variety of outcome measures that were reported in the paper.
How were decisions on the relevance of primary studies made?
The authors did not state how the papers were selected for the review, or how many reviewers performed the selection.