Screening for Alcohol Use and Brief Counseling of Adults — 13 States and the District of Columbia, 2017
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Screening for Alcohol Use and Brief Counseling of Adults — 13 States and the District of Columbia, 2017

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    • Alternative Title:
      MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep
    • Description:
      Binge drinking* is a leading preventable public health problem. From 2006 to 2010, binge drinking contributed to approximately 49,000 annual deaths resulting from acute conditions (e.g., injuries and violence) (1). Binge drinking also increases the risk for adverse health conditions, including some chronic Diseases (e.g., breast cancer) and fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (2). In 2004, 2013, and again in 2018, for all U.S. adults aged ≥18 years in primary care, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommended alcohol screening and brief intervention (alcohol SBI) or counseling for persons whose screening indicated drinking in excess of recommended limits or in ways that increase risk for poor health outcomes (3-5). However, previous CDC Surveillance data indicate that patients report rarely talking to their provider about alcohol use,| and alcohol SBI is traditionally delivered through conversation. CDC recently analyzed 2017 data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) survey's five-question module, which asked adults in 13 states| and the District of Columbia (DC) about the delivery of alcohol SBI during their most recent checkup in the past 2 years. Overall, 81.4% of adults (age-standardized estimate) reported being asked about alcohol use by a health professional in person or on a form during a checkup in the past 2 years, but only 37.8% reported being asked a question about binge-level alcohol consumption, which is included on USPSTF recommended instruments (3). Among module respondents who were asked about alcohol use at a checkup in the past 2 years and reported current binge drinking (past 30 days) at time of survey, only 41.7% were advised about the harms of drinking too much at a checkup in the past 2 years, and only 20.1% were advised to reduce or quit drinking at a checkup in the past 2 years. These findings suggest that missed opportunities remain for health care providers to intervene with patients who report binge drinking. Working to implement alcohol SBI at a systems level, including the provision of the new Healthcare Effectiveness Data Information Set (HEDIS) measure, Unhealthy Alcohol Use Screening and Follow-Up, can improve alcohol SBI's use and benefit in primary care.
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