Minor effect of patient education for alcohol cessation intervention on outcomes after acute fracture surgery: a randomized trial of 70 patients

Julie Weber Melchior Egholm, Bolette Pedersen, Kristian Oppedal, Bjørn Lindegård Madsen, Jes Bruun Lauritzen, Mette Rasmussen, Anders Helander, Johanna Adami, Hanne Tønnesen


BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: High alcohol intake is associated with increased risk of postoperative complications. Alcohol cessation intervention is recommended prior to elective surgery. We investigated short- and long-term effects of perioperative intensive alcohol intervention in relation to acute ankle fracture surgery.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: 70 patients requiring ankle fracture surgery and consuming ≥ 21 drinks weekly (1 drink = 12 g ethanol) were randomized to a manual-based 6-week intensive standardized alcohol cessation program, the Gold Standard Program (GSP-A), or treatment as usual (TAU), on the day of operation. GSP-A included 5 personal meetings, patient education, and motivational and pharmacological support (alcohol withdrawal prophylaxis, B vitamins, and low-dose disulfiram). Complications requiring treatment were measured after 6 weeks and 1 year. Alcohol intake was validated by biomarkers. Quality of life (QoL) was measured by the SF-36. Hospital costs were obtained from the National Hospital Costs Register.

RESULTS: Postoperatively, complete alcohol cessation was higher in the GSP-A than in the TAU group (18/35 vs. 5/35, number needed to treat = 3, p ≤ 0.001), but not lowrisk consumption in the long term (10/35 vs. 7/33, p = 0.5). Number of complications in the short and long term (12/35 vs. 14/33, 16/35 vs. 18/33), the SF-36 score, or hospital costs in the short and long term (€6,294 vs. €8,024, €10,662 vs. €12,198), were similar between the groups.

INTERPRETATION: Despite an effect on alcohol cessation and a positive tendency as regards the other outcomes, the postoperative complications, QoL, and costs were similar. Better perioperative strategies for acute surgical patients with high alcohol intake therefore need to be developed.

Original languageEnglish
JournalActa Orthopaedica
Pages (from-to)424-431
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 12 Apr 2022


  • Alcoholism/complications
  • Ankle Fractures
  • Ethanol
  • Humans
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Postoperative Complications/prevention & control
  • Quality of Life
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome/prevention & control
  • alcohol intervention
  • postoperative complications
  • ankle fracture
  • surgery


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