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1.  The Effect of Tobacco Control Measures during a Period of Rising Cardiovascular Disease Risk in India: A Mathematical Model of Myocardial Infarction and Stroke 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(7):e1001480.
In this paper from Basu and colleagues, a simulation of tobacco control and pharmacological interventions to prevent cardiovascular disease mortality in India predicted that Smokefree laws and increased tobacco taxation are likely to be the most effective measures to avert future cardiovascular deaths in India.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
We simulated tobacco control and pharmacological strategies for preventing cardiovascular deaths in India, the country that is expected to experience more cardiovascular deaths than any other over the next decade.
Methods and Findings
A microsimulation model was developed to quantify the differential effects of various tobacco control measures and pharmacological therapies on myocardial infarction and stroke deaths stratified by age, gender, and urban/rural status for 2013 to 2022. The model incorporated population-representative data from India on multiple risk factors that affect myocardial infarction and stroke mortality, including hypertension, hyperlipidemia, diabetes, coronary heart disease, and cerebrovascular disease. We also included data from India on cigarette smoking, bidi smoking, chewing tobacco, and secondhand smoke. According to the model's results, smoke-free legislation and tobacco taxation would likely be the most effective strategy among a menu of tobacco control strategies (including, as well, brief cessation advice by health care providers, mass media campaigns, and an advertising ban) for reducing myocardial infarction and stroke deaths over the next decade, while cessation advice would be expected to be the least effective strategy at the population level. In combination, these tobacco control interventions could avert 25% of myocardial infarctions and strokes (95% CI: 17%–34%) if the effects of the interventions are additive. These effects are substantially larger than would be achieved through aspirin, antihypertensive, and statin therapy under most scenarios, because of limited treatment access and adherence; nevertheless, the impacts of tobacco control policies and pharmacological interventions appear to be markedly synergistic, averting up to one-third of deaths from myocardial infarction and stroke among 20- to 79-y-olds over the next 10 y. Pharmacological therapies could also be considerably more potent with further health system improvements.
Smoke-free laws and substantially increased tobacco taxation appear to be markedly potent population measures to avert future cardiovascular deaths in India. Despite the rise in co-morbid cardiovascular disease risk factors like hyperlipidemia and hypertension in low- and middle-income countries, tobacco control is likely to remain a highly effective strategy to reduce cardiovascular deaths.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are conditions that affect the heart and/or the circulation. In coronary heart disease, for example, narrowing of the heart's blood vessels by fatty deposits slows the blood supply to the heart and may eventually cause a heart attack (myocardial infarction). Stroke, by contrast, is a CVD in which the blood supply to the brain is interrupted. CVD has been a major cause of illness and death in high-income countries for many years, but the burden of CVD is now rapidly rising in low- and middle-income countries. Indeed, worldwide, three-quarters of all deaths from heart disease and stroke occur in low- and middle-income countries. Smoking, high blood pressure (hypertension), high blood cholesterol (hyperlipidemia), diabetes, obesity, and physical inactivity all increase an individual's risk of developing CVD. Prevention strategies and treatments for CVD include lifestyle changes (for example, smoking cessation) and taking drugs that lower blood pressure (antihypertensive drugs) or blood cholesterol levels (statins) or thin the blood (aspirin).
Why Was This Study Done?
Because tobacco use is a key risk factor for CVD and for several other noncommunicable diseases, the World Health Organization has developed an international instrument for tobacco control called the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). Parties to the FCTC (currently 176 countries) agree to implement a set of core tobacco control provisions including legislation to ban tobacco advertising and to increase tobacco taxes. But will tobacco control measures reduce the burden of CVD effectively in low- and middle-income countries as other risk factors for CVD are becoming more common? In this mathematical modeling study, the researchers investigated this question by simulating the effects of tobacco control measures and pharmacological strategies for preventing CVD on CVD deaths in India. Notably, many of the core FCTC provisions remain poorly implemented or unenforced in India even though it became a party to the convention in 2005. Moreover, experts predict that, over the next decade, this middle-income country will contribute more than any other nation to the global increase in CVD deaths.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers developed a microsimulation model (a computer model that operates at the level of individuals) to quantify the likely effects of various tobacco control measures and pharmacological therapies on deaths from myocardial infarction and stroke in India between 2013 and 2022. They incorporated population-representative data from India on risk factors that affect myocardial infarction and stroke mortality and on tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke into their model. They then simulated the effects of five tobacco control measures—smoke-free legislation, tobacco taxation, provision of brief cessation advice by health care providers, mass media campaigns, and advertising bans—and increased access to aspirin, antihypertensive drugs, and statins on deaths from myocardial infarction and stroke. Smoke-free legislation and tobacco taxation are likely to be the most effective strategies for reducing myocardial infarction and stroke deaths over the next decade, according to the model, and the effects of these strategies are likely to be substantially larger than those achieved by drug therapies under current health system conditions. If the effects of smoke-free legislation and tobacco taxation are additive, the model predicts that these two measures alone could avert about 9 million deaths, that is, a quarter of the expected deaths from myocardial infarction and stroke in India over the next 10 years, and that a combination of tobacco control policies and pharmacological interventions could avert up to a third of these deaths.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that the implementation of smoke-free laws and the introduction of increased tobacco taxes in India would yield substantial and rapid health benefits by averting future CVD deaths. The accuracy of these findings is likely to be affected by the many assumptions included in the mathematical model and by the quality of the data fed into it. Importantly, however, these finding suggest that, despite the rise in other CVD risk factors such as hypertension and hyperlipidemia, tobacco control is likely to be a highly effective strategy for the reduction of CVD deaths over the next decade in India and probably in other low- and middle-income countries. Policymakers in these countries should, therefore, work towards fuller and faster implementation of the core FCTC provisions to boost their efforts to reduce deaths from CVD.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
The American Heart Association provides information on all aspects of cardiovascular disease; its website includes personal stories about heart attacks and stroke
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has information on heart disease and on stroke (in English and Spanish
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information about cardiovascular disease and stroke
MedlinePlus provides links to other sources of information on heart diseases, vascular diseases, and stroke (in English and Spanish)
The World Health Organization provides information (in several languages) about the dangers of tobacco, about the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, and about noncommunicable diseases; its Global Noncommunicable Disease Network (NCDnet) aims to help low- and middle- income countries reduce illness and death caused by CVD and other noncommunicable diseases
SmokeFree, a website provided by the UK National Health Service, offers advice on quitting smoking and includes personal stories from people who have stopped smoking, supported by the US National Cancer Institute and other US agencies, offers online tools and resources to help people quit smoking
PMCID: PMC3706364  PMID: 23874160
2.  Integrated Management of Physician-delivered Alcohol Care for Tuberculosis Patients (IMPACT): Design and Implementation 
While the integration of alcohol screening, treatment and referral in primary care and other medical settings in the U.S. and world-wide has been recognized as a key health care priority, it is not routinely done. In spite of the high co-occurrence and excess mortality associated with alcohol use disorders (AUDs) among individuals with tuberculosis (TB), there are no studies evaluating effectiveness of integrating alcohol care into routine treatment for this disorder.
We designed and implemented a randomized controlled trial (RCT) to determine the effectiveness of integrating pharmacotherapy and behavioral treatments for AUDs into routine medical care for TB in the Tomsk Oblast Tuberculosis Service (TOTBS) in Tomsk, Russia. Eligible patients are diagnosed with alcohol abuse or dependence, are newly diagnosed with TB and initiating treatment in the TOTBS with Directly Observed Therapy-Short Course (DOTS) for TB. Utilizing a factorial design, the Integrated Management of Physician-delivered Alcohol Care for Tuberculosis Patients (IMPACT) study randomizes eligible patients who sign informed consent into one of four study arms: (1) Oral Naltrexone + Brief Behavioral Compliance Enhancement Therapy (BBCET) + treatment as usual (TAU), (2) Brief Counseling Intervention (BCI) + TAU, (3) Naltrexone + BBCET + BCI + TAU, or (4) TAU alone.
Utilizing an iterative, collaborative approach, a multi-disciplinary U.S. and Russian team has implemented a model of alcohol management that is culturally appropriate to the patient and TB physician community in Russia. Implementation to date has achieved the integration of routine alcohol screening into TB care in Tomsk; an ethnographic assessment of knowledge, attitudes and practices of AUD management among TB physicians in Tomsk; translation and cultural adaptation of the BCI to Russia and the TB setting; and training and certification of TB physicians to deliver oral naltrexone and brief counseling interventions for alcohol abuse and dependence as part of routine TB care. The study is successfully enrolling eligible subjects in the RCT to evaluate the relationship of integrating effective pharmacotherapy and brief behavioral intervention on TB and alcohol outcomes, as well as reduction in HIV risk behaviors.
The IMPACT study utilizes an innovative approach to adapt two effective therapies for treatment of alcohol use disorders to the TB clinical services setting in the Tomsk Oblast, Siberia, Russia and to train TB physicians to deliver state of the art alcohol pharmacotherapy and behavioral treatments as an integrated part of routine TB care. The proposed treatment strategy could be applied elsewhere in Russia and in other settings where TB control is jeopardized by AUDs. If demonstrated to be effective, this model of integrating alcohol interventions into routine TB care has the potential for expanded applicability to other chronic co-occurring infectious and other medical conditions seen in medical care settings.
PMCID: PMC2898509  PMID: 19930235
Alcohol use disorders; treatment; tuberculosis; naltrexone; brief counseling intervention
3.  Do attitudes about unhealthy alcohol and other drug (AOD) use impact primary care professionals’ readiness to implement AOD-related preventive care? 
Drug and alcohol review  2010;29(6):655-661.
To explore the association between primary care professionals’ (PCPs) attitudes towards unhealthy alcohol and other drug (AOD) use (from risky use through dependence) and readiness to implement AOD-related preventive care.
PCPs from 5 health centers in Sao Paulo were invited to complete a questionnaire about preventive care and attitudes about people with unhealthy AOD use. Logistic regression models tested the association between professional satisfaction and readiness. Multiple Correspondence Analysis (MCA) assessed associations between stigmatizing attitudes and readiness.
Of 160 PCPs surveyed, 96 (60%) completed the questionnaire. Only 25% reported implementing unhealthy AOD use clinical prevention practices; and 53% did not feel ready to implement such practices. Greater satisfaction when working with people with AOD problems was significantly associated with readiness to implement AOD-related preventive care. In MCA two groups emerged: 1. PCPs ready to work with people with unhealthy AOD use, who attributed to such patients lower levels of dangerousness, blame for their condition and need for segregation from the community (suggesting less stigmatizing attitudes); 2. PCPs not ready to work with people with unhealthy AOD use, who attributed to them higher levels of dangerousness, blame, perceived level of patient control over their condition, and segregation (suggesting more stigmatizing attitudes).
More stigmatizing attitudes towards people with unhealthy AOD use are associated with less readiness to implement unhealthy AOD-related preventive care. Understanding these issues is likely essential to facilitating implementation of preventive care, such as screening and brief intervention, for unhealthy AOD use.
PMCID: PMC2965619  PMID: 20973851
Alcohol; Drugs; Primary Health Care; Attitudes; Stigma
4.  Impact of vital signs screening & clinician prompting on alcohol and tobacco screening and intervention rates: a pre-post intervention comparison 
BMC Family Practice  2010;11:18.
Though screening and intervention for alcohol and tobacco misuse are effective, primary care screening and intervention rates remain low. Previous studies have increased intervention rates using vital signs screening for tobacco misuse and clinician prompts for screen-positive patients for both alcohol and tobacco misuse. This pilot study's aims were: (1) To determine the feasibility of combined vital signs screening for tobacco and alcohol misuse, (2) To assess the impact of vital signs screening on alcohol and tobacco screening and intervention rates, and (3) To assess the additional impact of tobacco assessment prompts on intervention rates.
In five outpatient practices, nurses measuring vital signs were trained to routinely ask a single tobacco question, a prescreening question that identified current drinkers, and the single alcohol screening question for current drinkers. After 4-8 weeks, clinicians were trained in tobacco intervention and nurses were trained to give tobacco abusers a tobacco questionnaire which also served as a clinician intervention prompt. Screening and intervention rates were measured using patient exit interviews (n = 622) at baseline, during the "screening only" period, and during the tobacco prompting phase. Changes in screening and intervention rates were compared using chi square analyses and test of linear trends. Clinic staff were interviewed regarding patient and staff acceptability. Logistic regression was used to evaluate the impact of nurse screening on clinician intervention, the impact of alcohol intervention on concurrent tobacco intervention, and the impact of tobacco intervention on concurrent alcohol intervention.
Alcohol and tobacco screening rates and alcohol intervention rates increased after implementing vital signs screening (p < .05). During the tobacco prompting phase, clinician intervention rates increased significantly for both alcohol (12.4%, p < .001) and tobacco (47.4%, p = .042). Screening by nurses was associated with clinician advice to reduce alcohol use (OR 13.1; 95% CI 6.2-27.6) and tobacco use (OR 2.6; 95% CI 1.3-5.2). Acceptability was high with nurses and patients.
Vital signs screening can be incorporated in primary care and increases alcohol screening and intervention rates. Tobacco assessment prompts increase both alcohol and tobacco interventions. These simple interventions show promise for dissemination in primary care settings.
PMCID: PMC2844356  PMID: 20205740
5.  Self-reported alcohol and drug use six months after brief intervention: do changes in reported use vary by mental-health status? 
Although brief intervention (BI) for alcohol and other drug problems has been associated with subsequent decreased levels of self-reported substance use, there is little information in the extant literature as to whether individuals with co-occurring hazardous substance use and mental illness would benefit from BI to the same extent as those without mental illness. This is an important question, as mental illness is estimated to co-occur in 37% of individuals with an alcohol use disorder and in more than 50% of individuals with a drug use disorder. The goal of this study was to explore differences in self-reported alcohol and/or drug use in patients with and without mental illness diagnoses six months after receiving BI in a hospital emergency department (ED).
This study took advantage of a naturalistic situation where a screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment (SBIRT) program had been implemented in nine large EDs in the US state of Washington as part of a national SBIRT initiative. A subset of patients who received BI was interviewed six months later about current alcohol and drug use. Linear regression was used to assess whether change in substance use measures differed among patients with a mental illness diagnosis compared with those without. Data were analyzed for both a statewide (n = 828) and single-hospital (n = 536) sample.
No significant differences were found between mentally ill and non-mentally ill subgroups in either sample with regard to self-reported hazardous substance use at six-month follow-up.
These results suggest that BI may not have a differing impact based on the presence of a mental illness diagnosis. Given the high prevalence of mental illness among individuals with alcohol and other drug problems, this finding may have important public health implications.
PMCID: PMC3685518  PMID: 23186062
Brief intervention; Comorbid substance use and mental illness; Mental illness; Alcohol use; Binge drinking; Illicit drug use
6.  The effect of perceived person-job fit on employee attitudes towards change in trauma centers 
Health care management review  2013;38(2):115-124.
Employee attitudes towards change are critical for health care organizations implementing new procedures and practices. When employees are more positive about the change they are likely to behave in ways that support the change, whereas when employees are negative about the change they will resist the changes.
This study examines how perceived person-job (demands–abilities) fit influences attitudes towards change following an externally-mandated change. Specifically, we propose that perceived person-job fit moderates the negative relationship between individual job impact and attitudes towards change.
We examined this issue in a sample of Level I trauma centers facing a regulatory mandate to develop an alcohol screening and brief intervention (SBI) program. A survey of 200 providers within 20 trauma centers assessed perceived person-job fit, individual job impact, and attitudes towards change approximately one year after the mandate was enacted.
Providers who perceived a better fit between their abilities and the new job demands were more positive about the change. Further, the impact of the alcohol SBI program on attitudes towards change was mitigated by perceived fit, where the relationship between job impact and change attitudes was more negative for providers who perceived a worse fit as compared to those who perceived a better fit.
Practical Implications
Successful implementation of changes to work processes and procedures requires provider support of the change. Management can enhance this support by improving perceived person-job fit through ongoing training sessions that enhance providers’ abilities to implement the new procedures.
PMCID: PMC3370148  PMID: 22310485
Person-job fit; attitudes toward change; organizational change; trauma centers
7.  Study design to examine the potential role of assessment reactivity in the Screening, Motivational Assessment, Referral, and Treatment in Emergency Departments (SMART-ED) protocol 
Screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment (SBIRT) approaches to reducing hazardous alcohol and illicit drug use have been assessed in a variety of health care settings, including primary care, trauma centers, and emergency departments. A major methodological concern in these trials, however, is “assessment reactivity,” the hypothesized impact of intensive research assessments to reduce alcohol and drug use and thus mask the purported efficacy of the interventions under scrutiny. Thus, it has been recommended that prospective research designs take assessment reactivity into account. The present article describes the design of the National Institute on Drug Abuse Clinical Trials Network protocol, Screening, Motivational Assessment, Referral, and Treatment in Emergency Departments (SMART-ED), which addresses the potential bias of assessment reactivity.
The protocol employs a 3-arm design. Following an initial brief screening, individuals identified as positive cases are consented, asked to provide demographic and locator information, and randomly assigned to one of the three conditions: minimal screening only, screening + assessment, or screening + assessment + brief intervention. In a two-stage process, the randomization procedure first reveals whether or not the participant will be in the minimal-screening-only condition. Participants in the other two groups receive a more extensive baseline assessment before it is revealed whether they have been randomized to also receive a brief intervention. Comparing the screening only and screening + assessment conditions will allow determination of the incremental effect of assessment reactivity.
Assessment reactivity is a potential source of bias that may reduce and/or lead to an underestimation of the purported effectiveness of brief interventions. From a methodological perspective, it needs to be accounted for in research designs. The SMART-ED design offers an approach to minimize assessment reactivity as a potential source of bias. Elucidating the role of assessment reactivity may offer insights into the mechanisms underlying SBIRT as well as suggest clinical options incorporating assessment reactivity as a treatment adjunct. Identifier
PMCID: PMC3599426  PMID: 23186329
Assessment reactivity; Brief intervention; SBIRT; Clinical trials; Research design
8.  The Effectiveness of Community Action in Reducing Risky Alcohol Consumption and Harm: A Cluster Randomised Controlled Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(3):e1001617.
In a cluster randomized controlled trial, Anthony Shakeshaft and colleagues measure the effectiveness of a multi-component community-based intervention for reducing alcohol-related harm.
The World Health Organization, governments, and communities agree that community action is likely to reduce risky alcohol consumption and harm. Despite this agreement, there is little rigorous evidence that community action is effective: of the six randomised trials of community action published to date, all were US-based and focused on young people (rather than the whole community), and their outcomes were limited to self-report or alcohol purchase attempts. The objective of this study was to conduct the first non-US randomised controlled trial (RCT) of community action to quantify the effectiveness of this approach in reducing risky alcohol consumption and harms measured using both self-report and routinely collected data.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a cluster RCT comprising 20 communities in Australia that had populations of 5,000–20,000, were at least 100 km from an urban centre (population ≥ 100,000), and were not involved in another community alcohol project. Communities were pair-matched, and one member of each pair was randomly allocated to the experimental group. Thirteen interventions were implemented in the experimental communities from 2005 to 2009: community engagement; general practitioner training in alcohol screening and brief intervention (SBI); feedback to key stakeholders; media campaign; workplace policies/practices training; school-based intervention; general practitioner feedback on their prescribing of alcohol medications; community pharmacy-based SBI; web-based SBI; Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services support for SBI; Good Sports program for sports clubs; identifying and targeting high-risk weekends; and hospital emergency department–based SBI. Primary outcomes based on routinely collected data were alcohol-related crime, traffic crashes, and hospital inpatient admissions. Routinely collected data for the entire study period (2001–2009) were obtained in 2010. Secondary outcomes based on pre- and post-intervention surveys (n = 2,977 and 2,255, respectively) were the following: long-term risky drinking, short-term high-risk drinking, short-term risky drinking, weekly consumption, hazardous/harmful alcohol use, and experience of alcohol harm. At the 5% level of statistical significance, there was insufficient evidence to conclude that the interventions were effective in the experimental, relative to control, communities for alcohol-related crime, traffic crashes, and hospital inpatient admissions, and for rates of risky alcohol consumption and hazardous/harmful alcohol use. Although respondents in the experimental communities reported statistically significantly lower average weekly consumption (1.90 fewer standard drinks per week, 95% CI = −3.37 to −0.43, p = 0.01) and less alcohol-related verbal abuse (odds ratio = 0.58, 95% CI = 0.35 to 0.96, p = 0.04) post-intervention, the low survey response rates (40% and 24% for the pre- and post-intervention surveys, respectively) require conservative interpretation. The main limitations of this study are as follows: (1) that the study may have been under-powered to detect differences in routinely collected data outcomes as statistically significant, and (2) the low survey response rates.
This RCT provides little evidence that community action significantly reduces risky alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harms, other than potential reductions in self-reported average weekly consumption and experience of alcohol-related verbal abuse. Complementary legislative action may be required to more effectively reduce alcohol harms.
Trial registration
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12607000123448
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
People have consumed alcoholic beverages throughout history, but alcohol use is now an increasing global public health problem. According to the World Health Organization's 2010 Global Burden of Disease Study, alcohol use is the fifth leading risk factor (after high blood pressure and smoking) for disease and is responsible for 3.9% of the global disease burden. Alcohol use contributes to heart disease, liver disease, depression, some cancers, and many other health conditions. Alcohol also affects the well-being and health of people around those who drink, through alcohol-related crimes and road traffic crashes. The impact of alcohol use on disease and injury depends on the amount of alcohol consumed and the pattern of drinking. Most guidelines define long-term risky drinking as more than four drinks per day on average for men or more than two drinks per day for women (a “drink” is, roughly speaking, a can of beer or a small glass of wine), and short-term risky drinking (also called binge drinking) as seven or more drinks on a single occasion for men or five or more drinks on a single occasion for women. However, recent changes to the Australian guidelines acknowledge that a lower level of alcohol consumption is considered risky (with lifetime risky drinking defined as more than two drinks a day and binge drinking defined as more than four drinks on one occasion).
Why Was This Study Done?
In 2010, the World Health Assembly endorsed a global strategy to reduce the harmful use of alcohol. This strategy emphasizes the importance of community action–a process in which a community defines its own needs and determines the actions that are required to meet these needs. Although community action is highly acceptable to community members, few studies have looked at the effectiveness of community action in reducing risky alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harm. Here, the researchers undertake a cluster randomized controlled trial (the Alcohol Action in Rural Communities [AARC] project) to quantify the effectiveness of community action in reducing risky alcohol consumption and harms in rural communities in Australia. A cluster randomized trial compares outcomes in clusters of people (here, communities) who receive alternative interventions assigned through the play of chance.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers pair-matched 20 rural Australian communities according to the proportion of their population that was Aboriginal (rates of alcohol-related harm are disproportionately higher among Aboriginal individuals than among non-Aboriginal individuals in Australia; they are also higher among young people and males, but the proportions of these two groups across communities was comparable). They randomly assigned one member of each pair to the experimental group and implemented 13 interventions in these communities by negotiating with key individuals in each community to define and implement each intervention. Examples of interventions included general practitioner training in screening for alcohol use disorders and in implementing a brief intervention, and a school-based interactive session designed to reduce alcohol harm among young people. The researchers quantified the effectiveness of the interventions using routinely collected data on alcohol-related crime and road traffic crashes, and on hospital inpatient admissions for alcohol dependence or abuse (which were expected to increase in the experimental group if the intervention was effective because of more people seeking or being referred for treatment). They also examined drinking habits and experiences of alcohol-related harm, such as verbal abuse, among community members using pre- and post-intervention surveys. After implementation of the interventions, the rates of alcohol-related crime, road traffic crashes, and hospital admissions, and of risky and hazardous/harmful alcohol consumption (measured using a validated tool called the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test) were not statistically significantly different in the experimental and control communities (a difference in outcomes that is not statistically significantly different can occur by chance). However, the reported average weekly consumption of alcohol was 20% lower in the experimental communities after the intervention than in the control communities (equivalent to 1.9 fewer standard drinks per week per respondent) and there was less alcohol-related verbal abuse post-intervention in the experimental communities than in the control communities.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings provide little evidence that community action reduced risky alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harms in rural Australian communities. Although there was some evidence of significant reductions in self-reported weekly alcohol consumption and in experiences of alcohol-related verbal abuse, these findings must be interpreted cautiously because they are based on surveys with very low response rates. A larger or differently designed study might provide statistically significant evidence for the effectiveness of community action in reducing risky alcohol consumption. However, given their findings, the researchers suggest that legislative approaches that are beyond the control of individual communities, such as alcohol taxation and restrictions on alcohol availability, may be required to effectively reduce alcohol harms. In other words, community action alone may not be the most effective way to reduce alcohol-related harm.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
The World Health Organization provides detailed information about alcohol; its fact sheet on alcohol includes information about the global strategy to reduce the harmful use of alcohol; the Global Information System on Alcohol and Health provides further information about alcohol, including information on control policies around the world
The US National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has information about alcohol and its effects on health
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a website on alcohol and public health that includes information on the health risks of excessive drinking
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides detailed information about drinking and alcohol, including information on the risks of drinking too much, tools for calculating alcohol consumption, and personal stories about alcohol use problems
MedlinePlus provides links to many other resources on alcohol
More information about the Alcohol Action in Rural Communities project is available
PMCID: PMC3949675  PMID: 24618831
9.  Feasibility of a computer-assisted alcohol SBIRT program in an urban emergency department: patient and research staff perspectives 
The study objective was to assess the feasibility of a computerized alcohol-screening interview (CASI) program to identify at-risk alcohol users among adult emergency department (ED) patients. The study aimed to evaluate the feasibility of implementing a computerized screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment (SBIRT) program within a busy urban ED setting, to report on accurate deployment of alcohol screening results, and to assess comprehension and satisfaction with CASI from both patient and research staff perspectives.
Research assistants (RAs) screened a convenience sample of medically stable ED patients. The RAs brought CASI to patients’ bedsides, and patients entered their own alcohol consumption data. The CASI intervention consisted of an alcohol use screening identification test, a personalized normative feedback profile, NIAAA low-risk drinking educational materials, and treatment referrals (when indicated).
Five hundred seventeen patients were enrolled. The median age of participants was 37 years (range, 21-85 years); 37% were men, 62% were Hispanic, 7% were Caucasian, 30% were African American, and 2% were multiracial. Eighty percent reported regular use of computers at home. Eighty percent of patients approached consented to participate, and 99% of those who started CASI were able to complete it. Two percent of interviews were interrupted for medical tests and procedures, however, no patients required breaks from using CASI for not feeling well. The CASI program accurately provided alcohol risk education to patients 100% of the time. Thirty-two percent of patients in the sample screened positive for at-risk drinking. Sixty percent of patients reported that CASI increased their knowledge of safe drinking limits, 39% reported some likeliness to change their alcohol use, and 28% reported some intention to consult a health care professional about their alcohol use as a result of their screening results. Ninety-three percent reported CASI was easy to use, 93% felt comfortable receiving alcohol education via computer, and 89% liked using CASI. Ninety percent of patients correctly identified their alcohol risk level after participating in CASI. With regard to research staff experience, RAs needed to provide standby assistance to patients during <1% of CASI administrations and needed to troubleshoot computer issues in 4% of interviews. The RAs distributed the correct alcohol risk normative profiles to patients 97% of the time and provided patients with treatment referrals when indicated 81% of the time. The RAs rated patients as “not bothered at all” by using CASI 94% of the time.
This study demonstrates that an ED-based computerized alcohol screening program is both acceptable to patients and effective in educating patients about their alcohol risk level. Additionally, this study demonstrates that few logistical problems related to using computers for these interventions were experienced by research staff: in most cases, staff accurately deployed alcohol risk education to patients, and in all cases, the computer provided accurate education to patients. Computer-assisted SBIRT may represent a significant time-saving measure, allowing EDs to reach larger numbers of patients for alcohol intervention without causing undue clinical burden or interruptions to clinical care. Future studies with follow-up are needed to replicate these results and assess drinking reductions post-intervention.
PMCID: PMC3554507  PMID: 23324597
Computerized alcohol screening; Brief intervention; Emergency department; SBIRT
10.  Screening, brief interventions, referral to treatment (SBIRT) for illicit drug and alcohol use at multiple healthcare sites: Comparison at intake and six months 
Drug and alcohol dependence  2008;99(1-3):280-295.
Alcohol screening and brief interventions in medical settings can significantly reduce alcohol use. Corresponding data for illicit drug use is sparse. A Federally funded Screening, Brief Intervention, Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) service program, the largest of its kind to date, was initiated by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in a wide variety of medical settings. We compared illicit drug use at intake and six months after drug screening and interventions were administered.
SBIRT services were implemented in a range of medical settings across six states. A diverse patient population (Alaska Natives, American Indians, African-Americans, Caucasians, Hispanics), was screened and offered score-based progressive levels of intervention (brief intervention, brief treatment, referral to specialty treatment). In this secondary analysis of the SBIRT service program, drug use data was compared at intake and at a six month follow-up, in a sample of a randomly selected population (10%) that screened positive at baseline.
Of 459,599 patients screened, 22.7% screened positive for a spectrum of use (risky/problematic, abuse/addiction). The majority were recommended for a brief intervention (15.9%), with a smaller percentage recommended for brief treatment (3.2%) or referral to specialty treatment (3.7%). Among those reporting baseline illicit drug use, rates of drug use at 6 month follow-up (4 of 6 sites), were 67.7% lower (p < 0.001) and heavy alcohol use was 38.6% lower (p < 0.001), with comparable findings across sites, gender, race/ethnic, age subgroups. Among persons recommended for brief treatment or referral to specialty treatment, self-reported improvements in general health (p < 0.001), mental health (p < 0.001), employment (p < 0.001), housing status (p < 0.001), and criminal behavior (p < 0.001) were found.
SBIRT was feasible to implement and the self-reported patient status at six months indicated significant improvements over baseline, for illicit drug use and heavy alcohol use, with functional domains improved, across a range of health care settings and a range of patients.
PMCID: PMC2760304  PMID: 18929451
services; treatment; prescription drug abuse; preventive medicine; marijuana; cocaine; heroin; methamphetamine; CPT® codes; primary health care; trauma centers
11.  A Randomized Clinical Trial of the Health Evaluation and Referral Assistant (HERA): Research Methods 
Contemporary clinical trials  2013;35(2):87-96.
The Health Evaluation and Referral Assistant (HERA) is a web-based program designed to facilitate screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment (SBIRT) for tobacco, alcohol, and drug abuse. After the patient completes a computerized substance abuse assessment, the HERA produces a summary report with evidence-based recommended clinical actions for the healthcare provider (the Healthcare Provider Report) and a report for the patient (the Patient Feedback Report) that provides education regarding the consequences of use, personally tailored motivational messages, and a tailored substance abuse treatment referral list. For those who provide authorization, the HERA faxes the individual’s contact information to a substance abuse treatment provider matched to the individual’s substance use severity and personal characteristics, like insurance and location of residence (dynamic referral). This paper summarizes the methods used for a randomized controlled trial to evaluate the HERA’s efficacy in leading to increased treatment initiation and reduced substance use. The study was performed in four emergency departments. Individual patients were randomized into one of two conditions: the HERA or assessment only. A total of 4,269 patients were screened and 1,006 participants enrolled. The sample was comprised of 427 tobacco users, 212 risky alcohol users, and 367 illicit drug users. Fourty-two percent used more than one substance class. The enrolled sample was similar to the eligible patient population. The study should enhance understanding of whether computer-facilitated SBIRT can impact process of care variables, such as promoting substance abuse treatment initiation, as well as its effect on subsequent substance abuse and related outcomes.
PMCID: PMC3979303  PMID: 23665335
substance abuse treatment; brief intervention; referral; treatment matching; substance abuse screening; e-health
12.  A Randomized Trial Evaluating Two Approaches for Promoting Pharmacy-Based Referrals to the Tobacco Quitline: Methods and Baseline Findings 
Historically, community pharmacies have not integrated tobacco cessation activities into routine practice, instead unbundling them as unique services. This approach might have limited success and viability.
The objective of this report is to describe the methods and baseline findings for a two-state, randomized trial evaluating two intervention approaches for increasing pharmacy-based referrals to their state’s tobacco quitline.
Participating community pharmacies in Connecticut (n=32) and Washington (n=32) were randomized to receive either (a) on-site education with an academic detailer, describing methods for implementing brief interventions with patients and providing referrals to the tobacco quitline, or (b) quitline materials delivered by mail. Both interventions advocated for pharmacy personnel to ask about tobacco use, advise patients who smoke to quit, and refer patients to the tobacco quitline for additional assistance with quitting. Study outcome measures include the number of quitline registrants who are referred by pharmacies (before and during the intervention period), the number of quitline materials distributed to patients, and self-reported behavior of cessation counseling and quitline referrals, assessed using written surveys completed by pharmacy personnel (pharmacists, technicians).
Pharmacists (n=124) and pharmacy technicians (n=127), representing 64 participating pharmacies with equal numbers of retail chain and independently-owned pharmacies, participated in the study. Most pharmacists (67%) and half of pharmacy technicians (50%) indicated that they were “not at all” familiar with the tobacco quitline. During the baseline (pre-intervention) monitoring period, the quitline registered 120 patients (18 in CT and 102 in WA) who reported that they heard about the quitline from a pharmacy.
Novel tobacco intervention approaches are needed to capitalize on the community pharmacy’s frequent interface with tobacco users, and these approaches need to be evaluated to estimate their effectiveness. Widespread implementation of brief, yet feasible, pharmacy-based tobacco cessation efforts that generate referrals to a tobacco quitline could have a substantial impact on the prevalence of tobacco use.
PMCID: PMC3428501  PMID: 22554394
Tobacco; tobacco cessation; smoking; smoking cessation; pharmacist; community pharmacy; quitline; brief intervention
13.  Enhancing screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment among socioeconomically disadvantaged patients: study protocol for a knowledge exchange intervention involving patients and physicians 
Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral for Treatment (SBIRT) is an effective approach for managing alcohol and other drug misuse in primary care; however, uptake into routine care has been limited. Uptake of SBIRT by healthcare providers may be particularly problematic for disadvantaged populations exhibiting alcohol and other drug problems, and requires creative approaches to enhance patient engagement. This knowledge translation project developed and evaluated a group of patient and health care provider resources designed to enhance the capacity of health care providers to use SBIRT and improve patient engagement with health care.
A nonrandomized, two-group, pre-post, quasi-experimental intervention design was used, with baseline, 6-, and 12-month follow-ups. Low income patients using alcohol and other drugs and who sought care in family medicine and emergency medicine settings in Edmonton, Canada, along with physicians providing care in these settings, were recruited. Patients and physicians were allocated to the intervention or control condition by geographic location of care. Intervention patients received a health care navigation booklet developed by inner city community members and also had access to an experienced community member for consultation on health service navigation. Intervention physicians had access to online educational modules, accompanying presentations, point of care resources, addiction medicine champions, and orientations to the inner city. Resource development was informed by a literature review, needs assessment, and iterative consultation with an advisory board and other content experts. Participants completed baseline and follow-up questionnaires (6 months for patients, 6 and 12 months for physicians) and administrative health service data were also retrieved for consenting patients. Control participants were provided access to all resources after follow-up data collection was completed. The primary outcome measure was patient satisfaction with care; secondary outcome measures included alcohol and drug use, health care and addiction treatment use, uptake of SBIRT strategies, and physician attitudes about addiction.
Effective knowledge translation requires careful consideration of the intended knowledge recipient’s context and needs. Knowledge translation in disadvantaged settings may be optimized by using a community-based participatory approach to resource development that takes into account relevant patient engagement issues.
Trial registration
Northern Alberta Clinical Trials and Research Centre #30094
PMCID: PMC3610268  PMID: 23517813
Addiction; Screening; Brief intervention; Family medicine; Emergency medicine; Underserved patients; Patient engagement
14.  A qualitative study of anticipated barriers and facilitators to the implementation of nurse-delivered alcohol screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment for hospitalized patients in a Veterans Affairs medical center 
Unhealthy alcohol use includes the spectrum of alcohol consumption from risky drinking to alcohol use disorders. Routine alcohol screening, brief intervention (BI) and referral to treatment (RT) are commonly endorsed for improving the identification and management of unhealthy alcohol use in outpatient settings. However, factors which might impact screening, BI, and RT implementation in inpatient settings, particularly if delivered by nurses, are unknown, and must be identified to effectively plan randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of nurse-delivered BI. The purpose of this study was to identify the potential barriers and facilitators associated with nurse-delivered alcohol screening, BI and RT for hospitalized patients.
We conducted audio-recorded focus groups with nurses from three medical-surgical units at a large urban Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Transcripts were analyzed using modified grounded theory techniques to identify key themes regarding anticipated barriers and facilitators to nurse-delivered screening, BI and RT in the inpatient setting.
A total of 33 medical-surgical nurses (97% female, 83% white) participated in one of seven focus groups. Nurses consistently anticipated the following barriers to nurse-delivered screening, BI, and RT for hospitalized patients: (1) lack of alcohol-related knowledge and skills; (2) limited interdisciplinary collaboration and communication around alcohol-related care; (3) inadequate alcohol assessment protocols and poor integration with the electronic medical record; (4) concerns about negative patient reaction and limited patient motivation to address alcohol use; (5) questionable compatibility of screening, BI and RT with the acute care paradigm and nursing role; and (6) logistical issues (e.g., lack of time/privacy). Suggested facilitators of nurse-delivered screening, BI, and RT focused on provider- and system-level factors related to: (1) improved provider knowledge, skills, communication, and collaboration; (2) expanded processes of care and nursing roles; and (3) enhanced electronic medical record features.
RCTs of nurse-delivered alcohol BI for hospitalized patients should include consideration of the following elements: comprehensive provider education on alcohol screening, BI and RT; record-keeping systems which efficiently document and plan alcohol-related care; a hybrid model of implementation featuring active roles for interdisciplinary generalists and specialists; and ongoing partnerships to facilitate generation of additional evidence for BI efficacy in hospitalized patients.
PMCID: PMC3533719  PMID: 23186245
Alcohol consumption; Alcoholism; Inpatients; Nursing; Nurses; Implementation; Screening; Counseling; Qualitative research; Focus groups
15.  The feasibility and acceptability of the provision of alcohol screening and brief advice in pharmacies for women accessing emergency contraception: an evaluation study 
BMC Public Health  2014;14(1):1139.
It is widely accepted that excessive drinking contributes to both health and social problems. There has been considerable interest in the potential of community pharmacies as a setting for health advice, and evidence suggests that interventions by pharmacists can be effective. Research on interventions relating to alcohol consumption in primary care has focused on general practice, and although some evidence exists about the efficacy of pharmacy interventions, little research to date has taken place in the UK. The aim of this study was to evaluate the acceptability of alcohol screening and brief interventions to women accessing emergency hormonal contraception (EHC) in community pharmacies.
An initiative whereby women who accessed community pharmacies for EHC would be asked to complete an AUDIT questionnaire following their EHC consultation was introduced by a Primary Care Trust (PCT) in the North-East of England. The evaluation incorporated three strands: interviewing pharmacists (n = 14) about the implementation and acceptability of the initiative; interviewing clients (n = 22) identified as “low risk” to understand their perceptions of the initiative; conducting online follow-up surveys with clients in the “risky” group (n = 53) to evaluate the impact of the initiative on their alcohol consumption and contraceptive behaviour, as well as their perceptions of the service.
Pharmacists’ attitudes towards screening were generally positive, although there were organisational obstacles to providing the service. Some felt uncertain about engaging clients in conversation about a sensitive topic. However, clients themselves did not report feeling embarrassed or upset, and most were happy to talk to the pharmacist and be given advice. Most clients felt that the pharmacist was an appropriate person to carry out alcohol screening and advice.
It is feasible for pharmacists to carry out screening and brief advice, and most customers find it acceptable. However, pharmacist take-up of the service and participation in the study was low. Pharmacists were enthusiastic about providing screening and other health promotion services; targeting different population groups for alcohol screening may be more successful. Delivery of the AUDIT tool by pharmacists may not obtain reliable responses from some specific client groups.
PMCID: PMC4240821  PMID: 25369791
Alcohol brief intervention; Community pharmacy; Women; AUDIT questionnaire; Emergency contraception; UK
16.  The New York Policy on Smoking in Addiction Treatment: Findings After 1 Year 
American Journal of Public Health  2012;102(5):e17-e25.
We assessed changes in smoking prevalence and other measures associated with the July 2008 New York Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services tobacco policy, which required that all publicly funded addiction treatment programs implement smoke-free grounds, have “no evidence” of smoking among staff, and make tobacco dependence treatment available for all clients.
In a random sample of 10 programs, staff and clients were surveyed before the policy and 1 year later. Measures included tobacco-related knowledge, attitudes, and practices used by counselors and received by clients.
Client smoking decreased from 69.4% to 62.8% (P = .044). However, response to the policy differed by program type. Outpatient programs showed no significant changes on any of the staff and client survey measures. In methadone programs, staff use of tobacco-related practices increased (P < .01), client attitudes toward tobacco treatment grew more positive (P < .05), and clients received more tobacco-related services (P < .05). Residential clients were more likely to report having quit smoking after policy implementation (odds ratio = 4.7; 95% confidence interval = 1.53, 14.19), but they reported less favorable attitudes toward tobacco treatment (P < .001) and received fewer tobacco-related services from their program (P < .001) or their counselor (P < .001).
If supported by additional research, the New York policy may offer a model that addiction treatment systems can use to address smoking in a population where it has been prevalent and intractable. Additional intervention or policy supports may be needed in residential programs, which face greater challenges to implementing tobacco-free grounds.
PMCID: PMC3340008  PMID: 22420814
17.  Internet Applications for Screening and Brief Interventions for Alcohol in Primary Care Settings – Implementation and Sustainability 
Screening and brief interventions head the list of effective evidence-based interventions for the prevention and treatment of alcohol use disorders in healthcare settings. However, healthcare professionals have been reluctant to engage with this kind of activity both because of the sensitive nature of the subject and because delivery is potentially time-consuming. Digital technologies for behavioral change are becoming increasingly widespread and their low delivery costs make them highly attractive. Internet and mobile technologies have been shown to be effective for the treatment of depression, anxiety, and smoking cessation in healthcare settings, and have the potential to add substantial value to the delivery of brief intervention for alcohol. Online alcohol questionnaires have been shown to elicit reliable responses on alcohol consumption and compared with conventional prevention techniques, digital alcohol interventions delivered in various settings have been found to be as effective in preventing alcohol-related harms. The last decade has seen the emergence of a range of approaches to the implementation in health care settings of referral to Internet-based applications for screening and brief interventions (eSBI) for alcohol. Research in this area is in its infancy, but there is a small body of evidence providing early indications about implementation and sustainability, and a number of studies are currently underway. This paper examines some of the evidence emerging from these and other studies and assesses the implications for the future of eSBI delivery in primary care settings.
PMCID: PMC4214221  PMID: 25400593
eSBI; online interventions; alcohol; health care setting; Internet; digital
18.  Problem alcohol use among problem drug users in primary care: a qualitative study of what patients think about screening and treatment 
BMC Family Practice  2013;14:98.
Problem alcohol use is common and associated with considerable adverse outcomes among patients who attend primary care in Ireland and other European countries for opiate substitution treatment. This paper aims to describe patients’ experience of, and attitude towards, screening and therapeutic interventions for problem alcohol use in primary care.
This qualitative study recruited problem drug users (N = 28) from primary care based methadone programmes in the Ireland’s Eastern region, using a stratified sampling matrix to include size of general practice and geographical area. Semi-structured interviews were conducted and analysed using thematic analysis, and audited by a third reviewer.
We identified three overarching themes relevant to the purpose of this paper: (1) patients’ experience of, and (2) attitude towards, screening and treatment for problem alcohol use in primary care, as well as their (3) views on service improvement. While most patients reported being screened for problem alcohol use at initial assessment, few recalled routine screening or treatment. Among the barriers and enablers to screening and treatment, patients highlighted the importance of the practitioner-patient relationship in helping them address the issue. Nevertheless, patients felt that healthcare professionals should be more proactive in the management of problem alcohol use at a primary care level and that primary care can play an important role in their treatment.
Problem alcohol use is an important challenge in the care of problem drug users. While primary care is well placed to address this issue, little data has reported on this topic. The development of interventions which promote screening and brief interventions in practice are likely to benefit this at-risk group and further research and education, that help achieve this goal, are a priority. Strategies such as dissemination of clinical guidelines, educational videos, academic detailing and practice visits, should be explored.
PMCID: PMC3720559  PMID: 23849081
Alcohol; Brief intervention; Illicit drugs; Primary health care; Opioids; Qualitative interviews; Screening; Methadone
Dental visits represent an opportunity to identify and assist patients with substance use, but little is known about how dentists are addressing tobacco, alcohol and illicit drugs. We surveyed dentists to learn about the role their practices might play in providing substance use screening and interventions.
A 41-item, web-based survey was distributed to all 210 dentists active in the PEARL dental practice-based research network. The questionnaire assessed clinic policies and current practices, attitudes, and perceived barriers to providing services for tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drug use.
143 dentists completed the survey (68% response rate). While screening was common, fewer were providing follow-up counseling or referrals for substance use. Insufficient knowledge/training was the most frequently cited barrier to intervention. Many dentists said they would offer assistance for tobacco (67%) or alcohol or illicit drugs (52%) if reimbursed; an affirmative response was more likely among those who saw publicly insured patients.
Dentists recognize the importance of screening for substance use, but lack clinical training and systems that could facilitate intervention.
Practice Implications
If barriers were reduced through changes in reimbursement, education, and systems-level support, our findings indicate that dentists may be willing to address substance use, including use of alcohol and illicit drugs as well as tobacco.
PMCID: PMC3699308  PMID: 23729460
Substance use; tobacco cessation; dental tobacco interventions; dental practice; dental clinics; PEARL Network
20.  Implementing Residential Integrated Treatment for Co-occurring Disorders 
Journal of Dual Diagnosis  2013;9(3):249-259.
Objective: Much is now known about effective treatment for co-occurring substance abuse and psychiatric difficulties and many evidence-based practice recommendations have been disseminated. Implementation of these recommended interventions in daily clinical practice has been more of a struggle. This article describes successful implementation of integrated treatment for co-occurring disorders in a small residential program. Methods: A traditional 28-day addiction service was transformed into a 3-month integrated treatment program and 155 individuals with co-occurring disorders agreed to participate in its evaluation. The transformation entailed a completely new manualized service, training in a number of clinical interventions for all program clinicians, ongoing clinical supervision, and formal measurement of clients’ backgrounds, substance abuse, quality of life, mental health symptoms, self-esteem, and satisfaction with the program. We also obtained collateral informants’ reports on participants’ symptoms, substance use, and quality of life. Fidelity to the treatment model was continuously assessed, as were participants’ knowledge and skill acquisition. In addition, impact of the implementation on the program clinicians’ morale and attitudes toward evidence-based practices was assessed, as was staff turnover and per diem costs. Results: Despite very problematic clinical and sociodemographic histories, the 86 participants who completed the program showed clinically significant mental health symptom improvement, acquisition of knowledge and skill, and high self-esteem and satisfaction with the program. Program fidelity, clinician morale, commitment to the program, and attitudes toward evidence-based practice were uniformly high. These successes were achieved while maintaining the lowest per–inpatient day cost of all hospital inpatient units. Conclusions: The findings support the contention that evidence-based integrated treatment can be implemented with fidelity in regular clinical practice to the benefit of participants, staff, and the hospital. Our experience was that having a scientist-practitioner working as a staff member on the program to lead the implementation was a key element. Future reports will focus on longer-term follow-up of substance use and quality of life outcomes.
PMCID: PMC3746518  PMID: 23976887
co-occurring disorders; integrated treatment; implementation; substance abuse; mental illness
21.  Testing the effects of brief intervention in primary care for problem drug use in a randomized controlled trial: rationale, design, and methods 
A substantial body of research has established the effectiveness of brief interventions for problem alcohol use. Following these studies, national dissemination projects of screening, brief intervention (BI), and referral to treatment (SBIRT) for alcohol and drugs have been implemented on a widespread scale in multiple states despite little existing evidence for the impact of BI on drug use for non-treatment seekers. This article describes the design of a study testing the impact of SBIRT on individuals with drug problems, its contributions to the existing literature, and its potential to inform drug policy.
The study is a randomized controlled trial of an SBIRT intervention carried out in a primary care setting within a safety net system of care. Approximately 1,000 individuals presenting for scheduled medical care at one of seven designated primary care clinics who endorse problematic drug use when screened are randomized in a 1:1 ratio to BI versus enhanced care as usual (ECAU). Individuals in both groups are reassessed at 3, 6, 9, and 12 months after baseline. Self-reported drug use and other psychosocial measures collected at each data point are supplemented by urine analysis and public health-related data from administrative databases.
This study will contribute to the existing literature by providing evidence for the impact of BI on problem drug use based on a broad range of measures including self-reported drug use, urine analysis, admission to drug abuse treatment, and changes in utilization and costs of health care services, arrests, and death with the intent of informing policy and program planning for problem drug use at the local, state, and national levels.
Trial registration NCT00877331
PMCID: PMC3598998  PMID: 23237456
Problem drug use; Screening; Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT); Motivational Interviewing (MI); Addiction Severity Index (ASI); Safety net; Public health benefit; Cost effectiveness
22.  Patient Adherence to Tuberculosis Treatment: A Systematic Review of Qualitative Research 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(7):e238.
Tuberculosis (TB) is a major contributor to the global burden of disease and has received considerable attention in recent years, particularly in low- and middle-income countries where it is closely associated with HIV/AIDS. Poor adherence to treatment is common despite various interventions aimed at improving treatment completion. Lack of a comprehensive and holistic understanding of barriers to and facilitators of, treatment adherence is currently a major obstacle to finding effective solutions. The aim of this systematic review of qualitative studies was to understand the factors considered important by patients, caregivers and health care providers in contributing to TB medication adherence.
Methods and Findings
We searched 19 electronic databases (1966–February 2005) for qualitative studies on patients', caregivers', or health care providers' perceptions of adherence to preventive or curative TB treatment with the free text terms “Tuberculosis AND (adherence OR compliance OR concordance)”. We supplemented our search with citation searches and by consulting experts. For included studies, study quality was assessed using a predetermined checklist and data were extracted independently onto a standard form. We then followed Noblit and Hare's method of meta-ethnography to synthesize the findings, using both reciprocal translation and line-of-argument synthesis. We screened 7,814 citations and selected 44 articles that met the prespecified inclusion criteria. The synthesis offers an overview of qualitative evidence derived from these multiple international studies. We identified eight major themes across the studies: organisation of treatment and care; interpretations of illness and wellness; the financial burden of treatment; knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs about treatment; law and immigration; personal characteristics and adherence behaviour; side effects; and family, community, and household support. Our interpretation of the themes across all studies produced a line-of-argument synthesis describing how four major factors interact to affect adherence to TB treatment: structural factors, including poverty and gender discrimination; the social context; health service factors; and personal factors. The findings of this study are limited by the quality and foci of the included studies.
Adherence to the long course of TB treatment is a complex, dynamic phenomenon with a wide range of factors impacting on treatment-taking behaviour. Patients' adherence to their medication regimens was influenced by the interaction of a number of these factors. The findings of our review could help inform the development of patient-centred interventions and of interventions to address structural barriers to treatment adherence.
From a systematic review of qualitative research, Munro and coauthors found that a range of interacting factors can lead to patients deciding not to complete their course of tuberculosis treatment.
Editors' Summary
Every year nearly nine million people develop tuberculosis—a contagious infection, usually of the lungs—and about two million people die from the disease. Tuberculosis is caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, bacteria that are spread in airborne droplets when people with active tuberculosis sneeze or cough. Tuberculosis can be cured by taking several strong antibiotics daily for at least six months but many patients fail to complete this treatment because the drugs have unpleasant side-effects and the treatment is complicated. In addition, people often feel better soon after starting treatment so they stop taking their tablets before all the bacteria in their body are dead. Poor treatment adherence (poor compliance) means that people remain infectious for longer and are more likely to relapse and die. It also contributes to the emergence of drug-resistant tuberculosis. To help people complete their treatment, the World Health Organization recommends a strategy known as DOTS (directly observed treatment, short course). As part of this strategy, a health worker or a tuberculosis treatment supporter—a person nominated by the health worker and the patient—watches the patient take his/her antibiotics.
Why Was This Study Done?
Although DOTS has contributed to improved tuberculosis control, better patient compliance is needed to halt the global tuberculosis epidemic. Treatment adherence is a complex behavioral issue and improving treatment outcomes for tuberculosis (and for other diseases) requires a full understanding of the factors that prevent people taking medicines correctly and those that help them complete their treatment. In this study, the researchers have done a systematic review (a study in which the medical literature is surveyed and appraised using defined methods to reach a consensus view on a specific question) of qualitative studies that asked patients, carers, and health workers which factors contributed to adherence to tuberculosis treatment. Qualitative studies collect non-quantitative data so, for example, a qualitative study on tuberculosis treatment might ask people how the treatment made them feel whereas a quantitative study might count bacteria in patient samples.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers searched electronic databases and reference lists for qualitative studies on adherence to tuberculosis treatments and also consulted experts on tuberculosis treatment. They carefully read the 44 published papers that met their predefined inclusion criteria and then used a method called “meta-ethnography” to compare the factors (themes) associated with good or bad adherence in the different studies and to synthesize (reach) a consensus view of which factors influence adherence to tuberculosis treatment. The researchers identified eight major factors associated with adherence to treatment. These included: health service factors such as the organization of treatment and care; social context (family, community and household influences); and the financial burden of treatment. Finally, the researchers interpreted the themes that emerged from the studies to build a simple model that proposes that adherence to tuberculosis treatment is influenced by four interacting sets of factors—structural factors (including poverty and gender discrimination), social context factors, health service factors, and personal factors (including attitudes towards treatment and illness).
What Do These Findings Mean?
The findings of this systematic review of qualitative research on patient adherence to tuberculosis treatment are inevitably limited by the quality and scope of the original research. Consequently, further studies into patients' understanding of tuberculosis and its treatment are needed. Nevertheless, the findings and the model proposed by the researchers indicate that patients often take their tuberculosis medications under very difficult conditions and that they cannot control many of the factors that prevent them taking their drugs. So, although current efforts to improve adherence to tuberculosis treatments emphasize instilling a willingness to take their medications into patients, this systematic review suggests that more must be done to address how factors such as poverty and gender affect treatment adherence and to tailor support systems to patients' needs. Most importantly, it indicates that future interventions should involve patients more in the decisions made about their treatment.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
MedlinePlus has an encyclopedia page on tuberculosis (in English and Spanish)
See the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease fact sheet on tuberculosis
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide a variety of fact sheets and other information resources on tuberculosis
World Health Organization has produced the 2007 Global Tuberculosis Control report (in English with key findings in French and Spanish), information on DOTS (in English, Spanish, French, Russian, Arabic and Chinese), and A Guide for Tuberculosis Treatment Supporters
See the brief guide to systematic reviews, published by the British Medical Journal
PMCID: PMC1925126  PMID: 17676945
23.  Brief intervention for alcohol misuse in people attending sexual health clinics: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial 
Trials  2012;13:149.
Over the last 30 years the number of people who drink alcohol at harmful levels has increased in many countries. There have also been large increases in rates of sexually transmitted infections. Available evidence suggests that excessive alcohol consumption and poor sexual health may be linked. The prevalence of harmful alcohol use is higher among people attending sexual health clinics than in the general population, and a third of those attending clinics state that alcohol use affects whether they have unprotected sex. Previous research has demonstrated that brief intervention for alcohol misuse in other medical settings can lead to behavioral change, but the clinical- and cost-effectiveness of this intervention on sexual behavior have not been examined.
We will conduct a two parallel-arm, randomized trial. A consecutive sample of people attending three sexual health clinics in London and willing to participate in the study will be screened for excessive alcohol consumption. Participants identified as drinking excessively will then be allocated to either active treatment (Brief Advice and referral for Brief Intervention) or control treatment (a leaflet on healthy living). Randomization will be via an independent and remote telephone randomization service and will be stratified by study clinic. Brief Advice will comprise feedback on the possible health consequences of excessive alcohol consumption, written information about alcohol and the offer of an appointment for further assessment and Brief Intervention. Follow-up data on alcohol use, sexual behavior, health related quality of life and service use will be collected by a researcher masked to allocation status six months later. The primary outcome for the study is mean weekly alcohol consumption during the previous three months, and the main secondary outcome is the proportion of participants who report unprotected sex during this period.
Opportunistic intervention for excessive alcohol use has been shown to be effective in a range of medical settings. The SHEAR study will examine whether delivering such interventions in sexual health clinics results in reductions in alcohol consumption and will explore whether this is associated with changes in sexual behavior.
PMCID: PMC3482149  PMID: 22920408
Alcohol misuse; Intervention; Randomized controlled trial; Sexual health; Effectiveness
24.  Effectiveness of a Web-Based Brief Alcohol Intervention and Added Value of Normative Feedback in Reducing Underage Drinking: A Randomized Controlled Trial 
Current insights indicate that Web-based delivery may enhance the implementation of brief alcohol interventions. Previous research showed that electronically delivered brief alcohol interventions decreased alcohol use in college students and adult problem drinkers. To date, no study has investigated the effectiveness of Web-based brief alcohol interventions in reducing alcohol use in younger populations.
The present study tested 2 main hypotheses, that is, whether an online multicomponent brief alcohol intervention was effective in reducing alcohol use among 15- to 20-year-old binge drinkers and whether inclusion of normative feedback would increase the effectiveness of this intervention. In additional analyses, we examined possible moderation effects of participant’s sex, which we had not a priori hypothesized.
A total of 575 online panel members (aged 15 to 20 years) who were screened as binge drinkers were randomly assigned to (1) a Web-based brief alcohol intervention without normative feedback, (2) a Web-based brief alcohol intervention with normative feedback, or (3) a control group (no intervention). Alcohol use and moderate drinking were assessed at baseline, 1 month, and 3 months after the intervention. Separate analyses were conducted for participants in the original sample (n = 575) and those who completed both posttests (n = 278). Missing values in the original sample were imputed by using the multiple imputation procedure of PASW Statistics 18.
Main effects of the intervention were found only in the multiple imputed dataset for the original sample suggesting that the intervention without normative feedback reduced weekly drinking in the total group both 1 and 3 months after the intervention (n =575, at the 1-month follow-up, beta = -.24, P = .05; at the 3-month follow-up, beta = -.25, P = .04). Furthermore, the intervention with normative feedback reduced weekly drinking only at 1 month after the intervention (n=575, beta = -.24, P = .008). There was also a marginally significant trend of the intervention without normative feedback on responsible drinking at the 3-month follow-up (n =575, beta = .40, P =.07) implying a small increase in moderate drinking at the 3-month follow-up. Additional analyses on both datasets testing our post hoc hypothesis about a possible differential intervention effect for males and females revealed that this was the case for the impact of the intervention without normative feedback on weekly drinking and moderate drinking at the 1-month follow-up (weekly drinking for n = 278, beta = -.80, P = .01, and for n = 575, beta = -.69, P = .009; moderate drinking for n = 278, odds ratio [OR] = 3.76, confidence interval [CI] 1.05 - 13.49, P = .04, and for n = 575, OR = 3.00, CI = 0.89 - 10.12, P = .08) and at the 3-month follow-up (weekly drinking for n = 278, beta = -.58, P = .05, and for n = 575, beta = -.75, P = .004; moderate drinking for n = 278, OR = 4.34, CI = 1.18 - 15.95, P = .04, and for n = 575, OR = 3.65, CI = 1.44 - 9.25, P = .006). Furthermore, both datasets showed an interaction effect between the intervention with normative feedback and participant’s sex on weekly alcohol use at the 1-month follow-up (for n = 278, beta = -.74, P =.02, and for n = 575, beta = -.64, P =.01) and for moderate drinking at the 3-month follow-up (for n = 278, OR = 3.10, CI = 0.81 - 11.85, P = .07, and for n = 575, OR = 3.00, CI = 1.23 - 7.27, P = .01). Post hoc probing indicated that males who received the intervention showed less weekly drinking and were more likely to drink moderately at 1 month and at 3 months following the intervention. For females, the interventions yielded no effects: the intervention without normative feedback even showed a small unfavorable effect at the 1-month follow-up.
The present study demonstrated that exposure to a Web-based brief alcohol intervention generated a decrease in weekly drinking among 15- to 20-year-old binge drinkers but did not encourage moderate drinking in the total sample. Additional analyses revealed that intervention effects were most prominent in males resulting in less weekly alcohol use and higher levels of moderate drinking among 15- to 20-year-old males over a period of 1 to 3 months.
Trial Registration
ISRCTN50512934; (Archived by WebCite at
PMCID: PMC3057308  PMID: 21169172
Web-based brief alcohol intervention; adolescents; normative feedback; moderate drinking; alcohol use
25.  Teaching Internal Medicine Resident Physicians About Alcoholics Anonymous: A Pilot Study of an Educational Intervention 
Greater physician confidence in treating alcoholism is associated with a higher frequency of referring alcoholic patients for treatment, but many physicians have limited experience with Alcoholics Anonymous. We implemented a brief, didactic and experiential educational intervention about AA and evaluated its effect on knowledge and attitudes, using a before-after repeated measures study design. Thirty-six first-year internal medicine resident physicians received an educational intervention, which consisted of a 45-minute lecture about AA, a visit to an AA meeting, and a 30-minute debriefing session the next day. Residents’ knowledge and attitudes were assessed by a brief written anonymous survey before and after the educational intervention. Residents reported increases in self-perceived knowledge about AA and had more favorable attitudes towards AA after the intervention. Our pilot study shows that a brief, didactic and experiential course can improve physician knowledge and attitudes about AA, and holds promise for improving physician interface with this commonly used intervention.
PMCID: PMC1803081  PMID: 17135175
Alcoholics Anonymous; medical education; housestaff; alcohol dependence; internal medicine

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