Computer-Based Brief Intervention. A Randomized Trial with Postpartum Women

Steven J. Ondersma, Dace S. Svikis, Charles R. Schuster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

117 Scopus citations


Background: Drug use among parenting women is a significant risk factor for a range of negative child outcomes, including exposure to violence, child maltreatment, and child behavior problems. Implementation of brief interventions with this population may be greatly facilitated by computer-based interventions. Design: Randomized clinical trial with 4-month follow-up. Setting/participants: Participants were 107 postpartum women recruited from an urban obstetric hospital primarily serving a low-income population. Women were randomized into assessment only versus assessment plus brief intervention conditions; 76 (71%) returned for follow-up evaluation. Intervention: A 20-minute, single-session, computer-based motivational intervention (based on motivational interviewing methods), combined with two nontailored mailings and voucher-based reinforcement of attendance at an initial intake/treatment session. Main outcome measures: Illicit drug use as measured by qualitative urinalysis and self-report. Results: Frequency of illicit drug use other than marijuana increased slightly for the control group, but declined among intervention group participants (p<0.05, between-group Mann-Whitney U; d=0.50); the magnitude of intervention effects on changes in marijuana use frequency was similar, but did not reach statistical significance. Point-prevalence analysis at follow-up did not show significant group differences in drug use. However, trends under a range of assumptions regarding participants lost to follow-up all favored the intervention group, with most effect sizes in the moderate range (odds ratios 1.4 to 4.7). Conclusions: Results tentatively support the efficacy of this high-reach, replicable brief intervention. Further research should seek to replicate these findings and to further develop the computer as a platform for validated brief interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)231-238
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican journal of preventive medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2007
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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