Alcohol screening and brief intervention: A practice manual for clinicians

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The alcohol screening practice manual provides a step-by-step guide through the screening and intervention process.
The alcohol screening practice manual provides a step-by-step guide through the screening and intervention process.

The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) has created an alcohol screening practice manual to help clinicians prevent morbidity and mortality associated with alcohol use.

The manual, entitled Addressing Alcohol Use Practice Manual: An Alcohol Screening and Brief Intervention Program, was created in partnership with the Baylor College of Medicine Practice and Implementation Center, with funding from the CDC.  It provides a step-by-step guide through the screening and intervention process, and shows clinicians how to select “office champions” to implement the process.

“The family medicine office is the ideal place to address this common problem,” stated Roger Zoorob, MD, MPH, AAFP member and chair of the Baylor College of Medicine. “Alcohol use and misuse are extremely prevalent. Our patients don't have to abuse alcohol to have bad effects.”

The manual addresses how to:

  • Identify clinicians who can promote alcohol screening and brief intervention
  • Evaluate the office's current system for alcohol screening and intervention
  • Define a new system for screening and intervention
  • Standardize the new system using electronic health records for coding, implementing risky drinking registries, and creating a feedback mechanism

The US Preventive Services Task Force has given a grade B recommendation to alcohol screening and brief intervention.  The recommendation includes screening all adult primary care patients for risky alcohol use, at least annually, using an evidence-based screening tool and providing a brief behavioral intervention to patients who screen positive for risky alcohol use to help them make healthier choices regarding their drinking.

The AAFP's practice manual provides a systems-change approach for clinicians to implement alcohol screening and brief intervention into their practice. The manual also provides advice on addressing resistance to change in the office and a printable form to use in the implementation process. The manual includes additional resources for alcohol screening and training opportunities.

Dr Zoorob notes that alcohol misuse can lead to short-term and long-term side effects and complications, including domestic violence, motor vehicle accidents, liver disease, certain types of cancer, pancreatitis, reflux disease, and gastritis.

“It's our hope that through this manual and other training programs planned thorough partnership with the CDC and the AAFP, we can disseminate evidence-based training and knowledge and implement routine screening and brief intervention for alcohol misuse in every family practice in the United States,” he concluded.

References

  1. AAFP, Baylor Partner to Create Alcohol Screening Practice Manual [press release]. American Academy of Family Physicians. Published July 20, 2017. Accessed August 1, 2017.
  2. Addressing Alcohol Use Practice Manual: An Alcohol Screening and Brief Intervention Program.  American Academy of Family Physicians. Published July 2017. Accessed August 1, 2017.
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