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Screening and Intervention to Prevent Alcohol Misuse

Guideline Watch |
June 4, 2013

Screening and Intervention to Prevent Alcohol Misuse

  1. Jamaluddin Moloo, MD, MPHAU966

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that adults be screened; evidence is insufficient to recommend screening for adolescents.

  1. Jamaluddin Moloo, MD, MPHAU966

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has updated its 2004 recommendation on screening and behavioral counseling interventions in primary care to prevent alcohol misuse (JW Gen Med Apr 13 2004). The 2013 findings and recommendations include:

Screening adolescents:

The USPSTF found insufficient evidence to evaluate the benefits and harms of screening and behavioral counseling interventions in primary care.

Screening adults:

  • Clinicians should screen adults for alcohol misuse and provide those engaged in alcohol misuse with brief behavioral counseling.

  • Brief behavioral counseling interventions are effective in reducing heavy drinking episodes and in promoting adherence to recommended drinking limits. Brief (6–15 minutes), multicontact (>1) behavioral counseling interventions show the greatest benefit.

  • No studies have shown direct evidence of harm from screening or from brief behavioral interventions, although data are limited.

Recommended instruments for screening include one of these:

Comment

This USPSTF recommendation update guides primary care practitioners on strategies to screen for alcohol misuse and to intervene for screen-positive patients; the document also provides additional resources to assist our patients. Of note, although the task force found insufficient evidence to recommend screening in adolescents, the American Academy of Pediatrics does recommend that all adolescents be screened.

  • Disclosures for Jamaluddin Moloo, MD, MPH at time of publication Grant / research support NIH

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