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.

"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 July 24, 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 July 24, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Idaho Boy Helps Brother With Disabilities Complete Triathlon

Idaho Boy Helps Brother With Disabilities Complete Triathlon

Newsy (July 23, 2014) An 8-year-old boy helped his younger brother, who has a rare genetic condition that's confined him to a wheelchair, finish a triathlon. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The 83 new genetic markers could open dozens of new avenues for schizophrenia treatment research. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The new sci-fi thriller "Lucy" is making people question whether we really use all our brainpower. But, as scientists have insisted for years, we do. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Do Obese Women Have 'Food Learning Impairment'?

Do Obese Women Have 'Food Learning Impairment'?

Newsy (July 18, 2014) Yale researchers tested 135 men and women, and it was only obese women who were deemed to have "impaired associative learning." 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:
from the past week

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