Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

By guessing, clinicians may miss 3/4 of alcohol problems

Date:
February 13, 2013
Source:
University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio
Summary:
Brief alcohol screening questions far outperform clinician intuition in identifying people with alcohol problems, a new study shows.

By relying on hunches rather than posing a few screening questions, primary care clinicians may be missing three-fourths of the alcohol problems in their patients, a newly released analysis shows.

Related Articles


"It's often off the radar -- people come in for hypertension and are not asked how much they drink," said study co-author Barbara J. Turner, M.D., M.S.Ed., M.A., M.A.C.P., of UT Medicine San Antonio. Primary care offices typically don't have good systems to administer questionnaires to screen for certain problems, including alcohol consumption, she noted.

UT Medicine is the clinical practice of the School of Medicine at The University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio. Dr. Turner is a professor in the School of Medicine and director of the Research to Advance Community Health (ReACH) Center, a collaboration of the Health Science Center, the University Health System and the UT School of Public Health.

The study analyzed data from 1,664 patients in 40 primary care practices spread throughout the central part of the country from Colorado to Kentucky. Patients were asked five questions such as: "In the past 12 months, how often have you had a drink containing alcohol?" and "In the past 12 months, how often have you been under the influence of alcohol in situations where you could have caused an accident or gotten hurt?" Based on their scores, patients were classified into four drinking status categories ranging from nondrinker to harmful drinker.

Clinical intuition

Clinicians were asked, "Does this patient have problems with alcohol (check each that applies)?" Options included "yes," "hazardous drinking" and "don't know." When clinicians checked an affirmative answer, this was considered a suspicion of an alcohol problem.

If clinicians suspected a problem, they were usually right, Dr. Turner said. However, clinical intuition misses too many people, the findings indicated.

"When clinicians do assess alcohol consumption, it is usually limited to the first encounter. Afterward, it is only assessed when there is an evident problem," Dr. Turner said.

Societal issue

Alcohol problems are insidious and pervade all aspects of society, from work productivity to health decline to family and personal issues. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2010 the number of alcoholic liver disease deaths totaled 15,990 and the number of alcohol-induced deaths, excluding accidents and homicides, was 25,692.

More than half of adults age 18 and older described themselves as current regular drinkers (at least 12 drinks in the previous year), according to the 2011 National Health Interview Survey. Lost workdays related to alcohol use numbered 570 million over a 12-month period, the survey reported. According to the CDC, one in six U.S. adults binge drinks about four times a month, consuming about eight drinks per binge.

Regular screening

"Brief alcohol screening questions far outperform clinical intuition in identifying people with alcohol problems, and brief counseling interventions can significantly reduce risky drinking in these individuals," Dr. Turner said.

"Patients should be screened for alcohol problems on a regular basis," she added.

Although medical students and residents are increasingly being trained to ask questions that can identify patients for counseling, lack of time remains a problem. "We need to involve the entire practice team in addressing this issue," Dr. Turner said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. D. C. Vinson, B. J. Turner, B. K. Manning, J. M. Galliher. Clinician Suspicion of an Alcohol Problem: An Observational Study From the AAFP National Research Network. The Annals of Family Medicine, 2013; 11 (1): 53 DOI: 10.1370/afm.1464

Cite This Page:

University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. "By guessing, clinicians may miss 3/4 of alcohol problems." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 February 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130213132425.htm>.
University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. (2013, February 13). By guessing, clinicians may miss 3/4 of alcohol problems. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130213132425.htm
University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. "By guessing, clinicians may miss 3/4 of alcohol problems." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130213132425.htm (accessed December 19, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Friday, December 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) A double-amputee makes history by becoming the first person to wear and operate two prosthetic arms using only his mind. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) Harvard researchers found children whose mothers were exposed to high pollution levels in the third trimester were twice as likely to develop autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Yoga can help your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and heart just as much as biking and walking does, a new study suggests. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins