According to the study, increased screening for unhealthy alcohol consumption…

Zxcvf 04 08 003619

According to the study, increased screening for unhealthy alcohol consumption during primary care visits is needed

According to a new study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, patients are rarely screened for unhealthy alcohol intake using a validated questionnaire during primary care appointments.

Despite current US Preventive Services Task Force recommendations, researchers discovered that screening for alcohol use disorder was documented in less than 3% of clinic visits from 2014 to 2016.

Unfortunately, primary care physicians are inundated with numerous patient health concerns throughout the day, and screening questionnaires on patient alcohol consumption during office visits can be forgotten, said Brittany Chatterton, a research fellow in the University of California, Davis Department of Internal Medicine.

Chatterton collaborated on the study with Alicia Agnoli, an assistant professor in the UC Davis Department of Family and Community Medicine, Joshua Fenton, vice chair of research in the UC Davis Department of Family and Community Medicine, and Eleanor Bimla Schwarz, chief of internal medicine at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center.

The researchers looked at 19,213 visits to a primary care physician trained in family medicine or internal medicine by patients aged 18 and up. They looked at data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey to see how doctors used alcohol screening questionnaires and delivered alcohol counseling.

The study found that only 2.6 percent of visits had alcohol screening using a validated questionnaire. Only 0.8 percent of visits included alcohol counseling, which was either provided by the physician or referred by a third party.

Patients who were visited by their assigned main care physician, were new to the practice, or had numerous chronic medical issues were more likely to be screened.

“Screening questionnaires are a useful technique for identifying people who are at risk for binge drinking,” Chatterton said. “With the wide-ranging physical and social consequences of harmful alcohol consumption, early detection and prevention of alcohol use disorders is critical.”

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), roughly one out of every three adults in the United States abuses alcohol. Alcohol consumption disorder is believed to impact one-third of all individuals at some point in their lives.

Unhealthy alcohol consumption refers to a variety of behaviors, ranging from unsafe drinking to alcoholism. For men, dangerous alcohol use is defined as having more than four drinks on any given day or more than 14 drinks per week, according to the NIAAA.

It is defined as having more than three drinks on any one day or having more than seven drinks per week for women. According to Chatterton, “Unhealthy alcohol intake has been related to a variety of chronic diseases, including cancer and, in particular, breast cancer in women.”

“It’s critical for individuals to speak with their doctors about their alcohol consumption and determine whether they need to reduce their risk by drinking less.”

Researchers advised techniques to enhance the frequency of screening for unhealthy alcohol use that did not rely solely on the primary care physician to increase screening rates.

Alcohol screening measures that use technology, such as web-based screening and brief intervention, have been demonstrated to be effective in identifying and reducing alcohol usage.

Screening questionnaires could be given out in the waiting area before the office visit if the practice does not have a web-based platform.

“This is basically just a tool to assist in starting the dialogue regarding alcohol usage,” Chatterton explained. “If we don’t screen people, we won’t be aware that they’re having problems and won’t be able to intervene.”