Screening and intervention for alcohol problems can reduce drinking and its consequences. However, this is often not implemented.
In this study, researchers from the United States assessed whether providing physicians with patients' alcohol screening results would affect the likelihood of a discussion about alcohol. The team also assessed whether this would affect subsequent alcohol use.
The research team included 41 primary care physicians and 312 patients with hazardous drinking in the study.
The team provided physicians with alcohol screening results and recommendations for their patients at a visit.
They reviewed patients self-report of discussions about alcohol use immediately after their visit to the physician, and their alcohol use 6 months later.
|After 6 months, patients who saw resident physicians in the intervention group had fewer drinks per drinking day.|
|Annals of Internal Medicine|
Of 312 patients, 240 visited faculty physicians. Overall, 97% completed the outcome assessment after the office visit, and 76% were followed for 6 months.
Faculty physicians in the intervention group tended to be more likely than faculty physicians in the control group to give patients advice about drinking, 64% versus 42%. They were also more likely to discuss problems associated with alcohol use 74% versus 51%, respectively.
The team found that resident physicians' advice and discussions did not differ between groups.
The team determined that 6 months later, patients who saw resident physicians in the intervention group had fewer drinks per drinking day.
Dr Richard Saitz’s team concluded, “Prompting physicians with alcohol screening results and recommendations for action can…increase discussions about alcohol use and advice to patients and may decrease alcohol consumption”.