Alcohol Screening and Brief Intervention: Office-Based Primary Care Physicians, U.S., 2015–2016
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Alcohol Screening and Brief Intervention: Office-Based Primary Care Physicians, U.S., 2015–2016

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  • Alternative Title:
    Am J Prev Med
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    In 2013, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force again recommended alcohol misuse screening and provision of brief behavioral counseling interventions to those engaged in risky drinking for all adults aged ≥18 years in primary care. This report presents national estimates of the provision of alcohol screening and brief intervention by U.S. primary care physicians, the screening methods, and the resources they identified as helpful in implementing alcohol/substance screening and intervention in primary care settings.


    Data included 876 self-identified primary care physicians from the Physician Induction Interview portion of the 2015–2016 National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, an annual nationally representative sample survey of nonfederal, office-based physicians in the U.S., encompassing all the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Descriptive estimates (annualized percentages) of alcohol misuse screening were generated for selected primary care physician characteristics. Estimates of how primary care physicians reported screening, the frequency of brief intervention, and resources identified as helpful in the implementation of screening/intervention procedures were also generated. Two-tailed significance tests were used to determine the differences between the compared groups. Data analyses were conducted in 2019–2021.


    In total, 71.7% of office-based primary care physicians reported screening patients for alcohol misuse. Statistically significant differences in screening were observed geographically and by provider specialty.


    Less than 40% of primary care physicians who screened patients for alcohol misuse reported always intervening with patients who screened positive for risky alcohol use. Collection of data on resources that primary care physicians report as being helpful for alcohol/substance screening and intervention implementation may be useful in continuous improvement efforts.

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