New Publication, “Screening for Alcohol Misuse: Practices Among U.S. Primary Care Providers”


Excessive alcohol use can result in a wide range of negative health and social consequences. Over time, this can result in serious medical conditions, such as hypertension, liver disease, and various types of cancer. Prenatal alcohol exposure can result in fetal alcohol spectrum disorders in the developing baby and is associated with other poor birth outcomes, such as miscarriage, stillbirth, preterm birth, and sudden infant death syndrome.

Routine alcohol screening and brief counseling, as recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), is not yet a standard part of primary care. This is despite evidence that it works, is cost-effective, and is recommended for all adults, including pregnant women, during routine visits with their primary healthcare provider.

A new study from CDC published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that although 96 percent of primary care providers said that they screened their patients for alcohol use, 62 percent of them did not use any of the three screening tools the USPSTF prefers. Those tools better identify patients who misuse alcohol, especially patients who drink too much, but do not meet the criteria for alcohol use disorders and dependence. Using one of these screeners also increases opportunities for appropriate interventions and eventually reduces the burden from the many conditions associated with excessive alcohol consumption.

We invite you to read the article and to spread the word about the importance of alcohol screening and brief intervention in primary care.

For more information, please visit CDC’s web page on alcohol screening and brief intervention.

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