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Study Reports on Alcohol Misuse and Counseling among Minority Veterans


Alcohol misuse (drinking above recommended limits or having a diagnosable alcohol use disorder) is common and associated with considerable morbidity and mortality. Unfortunately, fewer than half of patients with alcohol misuse report receiving alcohol-related advice from their primary clinicians. This study sought to describe alcohol consumption across race and ethnicity groups among Veterans treated in VA during FY05, and examine associations between race and ethnicity and receipt of alcohol-related advice by clinicians. Investigators used data from the national VA Survey of the Health Experiences of Patients (SHEP). The SHEP survey includes demographic, patient satisfaction, health status, and health behavior information, in addition to the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test Consumption (AUDIT-C) questionnaire – a validated screen for alcohol misuse. The study cohort included 135,873 Veterans who reporting any drinking and 106,625 Veterans who reported no drinking.

Findings showed that overall, less than one-third of patients who drank at all and one-third of patients with positive alcohol misuse screens reported receiving alcohol-related advice. After adjusting for demographics, health status, and alcohol consumption, Veterans who self-identified as black, Hispanic, or American Indian/Alaska Native were more likely to report receiving alcohol-related advice from their VA healthcare providers compared to non-Hispanic whites. In addition, women and older Veterans were less likely to receive alcohol-related advice than their male and younger counterparts, respectively. Rates of any drinking were significantly different across race/ethnicity groups, with higher proportions of black, Asian, and American Indian/Alaska Native veterans represented in the non-drinking category than other racial/ethnic groups.

PubMed Logo Dobscha S, Dickinson K, Lasarev M, and Lee E. Associations between race and ethnicity and alcohol counseling in the VA. Psychiatric Services May 2009;60(5):663-70.

This study was funded by HSR&D. All authors are part of HSR&D’s Center for the Study of Chronic, Comorbid Mental and Physical Disorders in Portland, OR.

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What are HSR&D Publication Briefs?

HSR&D requires notification by HSR&D-funded investigators about all articles accepted for publication. These journal articles are reviewed by HSR&D and publication briefs or summaries are written for a select number of articles that are then forwarded to VHA Central Office leadership to keep them informed about important findings or information. Articles to be summarized are selected by HSR&D based on timeliness of the findings, interest of leadership, or potential impact on the organization. Publication briefs are written for only a small number of HSR&D published articles. Visit the HSR&D citations database for a complete listing of HSR&D articles and presentations.