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Excessive alcohol use is one of the most common causes of premature mortality in the United States. From 2006 to 2010, an estimated 88 000 alcohol-attributable deaths occurred annually in the United States, caused by both acute conditions (eg, injuries from motor vehicle collisions) and chronic conditions (eg, alcoholic liver disease). Alcohol use during pregnancy is also one of the major preventable causes of birth defects and developmental disabilities.
To update the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) 2013 recommendation on screening for unhealthy alcohol use in primary care settings.
The USPSTF commissioned a review of the evidence on the effectiveness of screening to reduce unhealthy alcohol use (defined as a spectrum of behaviors, from risky drinking to alcohol use disorder, that result in increased risk for health consequences) morbidity, mortality, or risky behaviors and to improve health, social, or legal outcomes; the accuracy of various screening approaches; the effectiveness of counseling interventions to reduce unhealthy alcohol use, morbidity, mortality, or risky behaviors and to improve health, social, or legal outcomes; and the harms of screening and behavioral counseling interventions.
The net benefit of screening and brief behavioral counseling interventions for unhealthy alcohol use in adults, including pregnant women, is moderate. The evidence is insufficient to assess the balance of benefits and harms of screening and brief behavioral counseling interventions for unhealthy alcohol use in adolescents.
Conclusions and Recommendation
The USPSTF recommends screening for unhealthy alcohol use in primary care settings in adults 18 years or older, including pregnant women, and providing persons engaged in risky or hazardous drinking with brief behavioral counseling interventions to reduce unhealthy alcohol use. (B recommendation) The USPSTF concludes that the current evidence is insufficient to assess the balance of benefits and harms of screening and brief behavioral counseling interventions for alcohol use in primary care settings in adolescents aged 12 to 17 years. (I statement)
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Corresponding Author: Susan J. Curry, PhD, The University of Iowa, 111 Jessup Hall, Iowa City, IA 52242 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) Members: Susan J. Curry, PhD; Alex H. Krist, MD, MPH; Douglas K. Owens, MD, MS; Michael J. Barry, MD; Aaron B. Caughey, MD, PhD; Karina W. Davidson, PhD, MASc; Chyke A. Doubeni, MD, MPH; John W. Epling Jr, MD, MSEd; Alex R. Kemper, MD, MPH, MS; Martha Kubik, PhD, RN; C. Seth Landefeld, MD; Carol M. Mangione, MD, MSPH; Michael Silverstein, MD, MPH; Melissa A. Simon, MD, MPH; Chien-Wen Tseng, MD, MPH, MSEE; John B. Wong, MD.
Affiliations of The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) Members: University of Iowa, Iowa City (Curry); Fairfax Family Practice Residency, Fairfax, Virginia (Krist); Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond (Krist); Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System, Palo Alto, California (Owens); Stanford University, Stanford, California (Owens); Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts (Barry); Oregon Health & Science University, Portland (Caughey); Columbia University, New York, New York (Davidson); University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia (Doubeni); Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, Roanoke (Epling); Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Columbus, Ohio (Kemper); Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Kubik); University of Alabama at Birmingham (Landefeld); University of California, Los Angeles (Mangione); Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts (Silverstein); Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois (Simon); University of Hawaii, Honolulu (Tseng); Pacific Health Research and Education Institute, Honolulu, Hawaii (Tseng); Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts (Wong).
Author Contributions: Dr Curry had full access to all of the data in the study and takes responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis. The USPSTF members contributed equally to the recommendation statement.
Conflict of Interest Disclosures: All authors have completed and submitted the ICMJE Form for Disclosure of Potential Conflicts of Interest. Authors followed the policy regarding conflicts of interest described at https://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/Page/Name/conflict-of-interest-disclosures. All members of the USPSTF receive travel reimbursement and an honorarium for participating in USPSTF meetings. Dr Barry reported receiving grants and personal fees from Healthwise, a nonprofit. Dr Doubeni reported being the author of topics on UpToDate on colorectal cancer. Dr Epling reported receiving grants from the National Institutes of Health Small Business Technology Transfer program. No other disclosures were reported.
Funding/Support: The USPSTF is an independent, voluntary body. The US Congress mandates that the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) support the operations of the USPSTF.
Role of the Funder/Sponsor: AHRQ staff assisted in the following: development and review of the research plan, commission of the systematic evidence review from an Evidence-based Practice Center, coordination of expert review and public comment of the draft evidence report and draft recommendation statement, and the writing and preparation of the final recommendation statement and its submission for publication. AHRQ staff had no role in the approval of the final recommendation statement or the decision to submit for publication.
Disclaimer: Recommendations made by the USPSTF are independent of the US government. They should not be construed as an official position of AHRQ or the US Department of Health and Human Services.
Additional Contributions: We thank Iris Mabry-Hernandez, MD, MPH (AHRQ), who contributed to the writing of the manuscript, and Lisa Nicolella, MA (AHRQ), who assisted with coordination and editing.
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