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Screening for Unhealthy Drug UseUS Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation Statement

Educational Objective
To review the USPSTF recommendations regarding screening for unhealthy drug use.
1 Credit CME
Abstract

Importance  An estimated 12% of adults 18 years or older and 8% of adolescents aged 12 to 17 years report unhealthy use of prescription or illegal drugs in the US.

Objective  To update its 2008 recommendation, the USPSTF commissioned reviews of the evidence on screening by asking questions about drug use and interventions for unhealthy drug use in adults and adolescents.

Population  This recommendation statement applies to adults 18 years or older, including pregnant and postpartum persons, and adolescents aged 12 to 17 years in primary care settings. This statement does not apply to adolescents or adults who have a currently diagnosed drug use disorder or are currently undergoing or have been referred for drug use treatment. This statement applies to settings and populations for which services for accurate diagnosis, effective treatment, and appropriate care can be offered or referred.

Evidence Assessment  In adults, the USPSTF concludes with moderate certainty that screening by asking questions about unhealthy drug use has moderate net benefit when services for accurate diagnosis of unhealthy drug use or drug use disorders, effective treatment, and appropriate care can be offered or referred. In adolescents, because of the lack of evidence, the USPSTF concludes that the benefits and harms of screening for unhealthy drug use are uncertain and that the balance of benefits and harms cannot be determined.

Recommendation  The USPSTF recommends screening by asking questions about unhealthy drug use in adults 18 years or older. Screening should be implemented when services for accurate diagnosis, effective treatment, and appropriate care can be offered or referred. (Screening refers to asking questions about unhealthy drug use, not testing biological specimens.) (B recommendation) The USPSTF concludes that the current evidence is insufficient to assess the balance of benefits and harms of screening for unhealthy drug use in adolescents. (I statement)

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Article Information

Corresponding Author: Alex H. Krist, MD, MPH, Virginia Commonwealth University, 830 E Main St, One Capitol Square, Sixth Floor, Richmond, VA 23219 (chair@uspstf.net).

The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) members: Alex H. Krist, MD, MPH; Karina W. Davidson, PhD, MASc; Carol M. Mangione, MD, MSPH; Michael J. Barry, MD; Michael Cabana, MD, MA, MPH; Aaron B. Caughey, MD, PhD; Susan J. Curry, PhD; Katrina Donahue, MD, MPH; Chyke A. Doubeni, MD, MPH; John W. Epling Jr, MD, MSEd; Martha Kubik, PhD, RN; Gbenga Ogedegbe, MD, MPH; Lori Pbert, PhD; 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: Fairfax Family Practice Residency, Fairfax, Virginia (Krist); Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond (Krist); Feinstein Institute for Medical Research at Northwell Health, Manhasset, New York (Davidson); University of California, Los Angeles (Mangione); Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts (Barry); University of California, San Francisco (Cabana); Oregon Health & Science University, Portland (Caughey); University of Iowa, Iowa City (Curry); University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Donahue); Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota (Doubeni); Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, Roanoke (Epling Jr); Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Kubik); New York University, New York, New York (Ogedegbe); University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester (Pbert); 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 School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts (Wong).

Accepted for Publication: May 4, 2020.

Author Contributions: Dr Krist 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: Authors followed the policy regarding conflicts of interest described at https://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/about-uspstf/conflict-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.

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 Katy Irwin, MD, MPH (AHRQ), who contributed to the writing of the manuscript, and Lisa Nicolella, MA (AHRQ), who assisted with coordination and editing.

Additional Information: The USPSTF makes recommendations about the effectiveness of specific preventive care services for patients without obvious related signs or symptoms. It bases its recommendations on the evidence of both the benefits and harms of the service and an assessment of the balance. The USPSTF does not consider the costs of providing a service in this assessment. The USPSTF recognizes that clinical decisions involve more considerations than evidence alone. Clinicians should understand the evidence but individualize decision-making to the specific patient or situation. Similarly, the USPSTF notes that policy and coverage decisions involve considerations in addition to the evidence of clinical benefits and harms.

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