Spotlight: April is Alcohol Awareness Month
Alcohol screening and brief alcohol intervention is ranked as the third highest prevention priority for US adults. About 9% of VA primary care patients screen positive for alcohol misuse, which ranges from drinking above recommended limits without problems (risky drinking) to severe alcohol use disorders (alcohol dependence). Among Veterans, alcohol misuse disorders (and other substance misuse disorders) may occur as a result of—or in concert with-other deployment—related conditions such as traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, pain, depression, anxiety, and sleep disturbances. Overall, alcohol misuse problems can have a significant impact on individuals and families.
VHA has many resources to help Veterans and their loved ones answer questions, find support, get treatment, and recover. Further, investigators within the VA's Health Services Research & Development (VA HSR&D) service have conducted extensive research into alcohol misuse, the results of which have been translated into improved patient care.
For example, investigators with the VA HSR&D Substance Use Disorders Quality Enhancement Research Initiative (SUD-QUERI) developed a clinical reminder for brief alcohol counseling for implementation in VA's computerized patient record system. The clinical reminder was pilot-tested at eight VA facilities and was recommended for use nationwide in 2007. VA HSR&D investigators also conducted a study using alcohol screening scores to show that a validated, clinically practical alcohol screening questionnaire can identify patients with alcohol misuse who are at risk for poor medication adherence, independent of other patient characteristics.
To learn more about research being conducted in VA to improve alcohol screening, treatment, and interventions to improve care for Veterans, see the Resources box located to the right.