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.
Computerized alcohol screening; Brief intervention; Emergency department; SBIRT
Alcohol use disorders (AUDs) are associated with the highest all-cause mortality rates of all mental disorders. The majority of patients with AUDs never receive inpatient treatment for their AUD, and there is lack of data about their mortality risks despite their constituting the majority of those affected. Absenteeism from work (sick leave) due to an AUD likely signals worsening. In this study, we assessed whether AUD-related sick leave was associated with mortality in a cohort of workers in Germany.
128,001 workers with health insurance were followed for a mean of 6.4 years. We examined the associations between 1) AUD-related sick leave managed on an outpatient basis and 2) AUD-related psychiatric inpatient treatment, and mortality using survival analysis, and Cox proportional hazard regression models (separately by sex) adjusted for age, education, and job code classification. We also stratified analyses by sick leave related to three groups of alcohol-related conditions (all determined by International Classification of Diseases 9th ed. (ICD-9) codes): alcohol abuse and dependence; alcohol-induced mental disorder; and alcohol-induced medical conditions.
Outpatient-managed AUD-related sick leave was significantly associated with higher mortality (hazard ratio (HR) 2.90 (95% Confidence interval (CI) 2.24-3.75) for men, HR 5.83 (CI 2.90-11.75) for women). The magnitude of the association was similar for receipt of AUD-related psychiatric inpatient treatment (HR 3.2 (CI 2.76-3.78) for men, HR 6.5 (CI 4.41-9.47) for women). Compared to those without the conditions, higher mortality was observed consistently for outpatients and inpatients across the three groups of alcohol-related conditions. Those with alcohol-related medical conditions who had AUD-related psychiatric inpatient treatment appeared to have the highest mortality.
Alcohol use disorder-related sick leave as documented in health insurance records is associated with higher mortality. Such sick leave does not necessarily lead to any specific AUD treatment. Therefore, AUD-related sick leave might be used as a trigger for insurers to intervene by offering AUD treatment to patients to try to reduce their risk of death.
Workers; Alcohol; Mortality; Gender; Addiction; Outpatients; Inpatients
Numerous studies have demonstrated that positive organizational climates contribute to better work performance. Screening and brief intervention (SBI) for alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use has the potential to reach a broad population of hazardous drug users but has not yet been widely adopted in Brazil’s health care system. We surveyed 149 primary health care professionals in 30 clinics in Brazil who were trained to conduct SBI among their patients. We prospectively measured how often they delivered SBI to evaluate the association between organizational climate and adoption/performance of SBI.
Organizational climate was measured by the 2009 Organizational Climate Scale for Health Organizations, a scale validated in Brazil that assesses leadership, professional development, team spirit, relationship with the community, safety, strategy, and remuneration. Performance of SBI was measured prospectively by weekly assessments during the three months following training. We also assessed self-reported SBI and self-efficacy for performing SBI at three months post-training. We used inferential statistics to depict and test for the significance of associations.
Teams with better organizational climates implemented SBI more frequently. Organizational climate factors most closely associated with SBI implementation included professional development and relationship with the community. The dimensions of leadership and remuneration were also significantly associated with SBI.
Organizational climate may influence implementation of SBI and ultimately may affect the ability of organizations to identify and address drug use.
Organizational climate; Screening; Brief intervention; Alcohol; Tobacco; Substance abuse
Nicotine is widely recognized as an addictive psychoactive drug. Since most smokers are bio-behaviorally addicted, quitting can be very difficult and is often accompanied by withdrawal symptoms. Research indicates that nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) can double quit rates. However, the success rate for quitting remains low. E-cigarettes (electronic cigarettes) are battery-powered nicotine delivery devices used to inhale doses of vaporized nicotine from a handheld device similar in shape to a cigarette without the harmful chemicals present in tobacco products. Anecdotal evidence strongly suggests that e-cigarettes may be effective in helping smokers quit and preventing relapse, but there have been few published qualitative studies, especially among successful e-cigarette users, to support this evidence.
Qualitative design using focus groups (N = 11); 9 men and 2 women. Focus groups were conducted by posing open-ended questions relating to the use of e-cigarettes, comparison of effectiveness between NRTs and e-cigarettes, barriers to quitting, and reasons for choosing e-cigarettes over other methods.
Five themes emerged that describe users’ perceptions of why e-cigarettes are efficacious in quitting smoking: 1) bio-behavioral feedback, 2) social benefits, 3) hobby elements, 4) personal identity, and 5) distinction between smoking cessation and nicotine cessation. Additionally, subjects reported their experiences with NRTs compared with e-cigarettes, citing negative side effects of NRTs and their ineffectiveness at preventing relapse.
These findings suggest tobacco control practitioners must pay increased attention to the importance of the behavioral and social components of smoking addiction. By addressing these components in addition to nicotine dependence, e-cigarettes appear to help some tobacco smokers transition to a less harmful replacement tool, thereby maintaining cigarette abstinence.
Smoking; E-cigarettes; Addiction; Smoking cessation; Qualitative research; Focus group
This article presents an update on addiction-related medical literature for the calendar years 2010 and 2011, focusing on studies that have implications for generalist practice. We present articles pertaining to medical comorbidities and complications, prescription drug misuse among patients with chronic pain, screening and brief interventions (SBIs), and pharmacotherapy for addiction.
Primary care; Alcoholism; Addictive behavior; Drug abuse; Substance-related disorders; Screening and brief intervention
This paper describes an innovative protocol for a type-II hybrid effectiveness-implementation trial that is evaluating a smoking cessation telephone care coordination program for Veterans Health Administration (VA) mental-health clinic patients. As a hybrid trial, the protocol combines implementation science and clinical trial methods and outcomes that can inform future cessation studies and the implementation of tobacco cessation programs into routine care. The primary objectives of the trial are (1) to evaluate the process of adapting, implementing, and sustaining a smoking cessation telephone care coordination program in VA mental health clinics, (2) to determine the effectiveness of the program in promoting long-term abstinence from smoking among mental health patients, and (3) to compare the effectiveness of telephone counseling delivered by VA staff with that delivered by state quitlines.
The care coordination program is being implemented at six VA facilities. VA mental health providers refer patients to the program via an electronic medical record consult. Program staff call referred patients to offer enrollment. All patients who enroll receive a self-help booklet, mailed smoking cessation medications, and proactive multi-call telephone counseling. Participants are randomized to receive this counseling from VA staff or their state’s quitline. Four primary implementation strategies are being used to optimize program implementation and sustainability: blended facilitation, provider training, informatics support, and provider feedback. A three-phase formative evaluation is being conducted to identify barriers to, and facilitators for, program implementation and sustainability. A mixed-methods approach is being used to collect quantitative clinical effectiveness data (e.g., self-reported abstinence at six months) and both quantitative and qualitative implementation data (e.g., provider referral rates, coded interviews with providers). Summative data will be analyzed using the Reach Effectiveness Adoption Implementation Maintenance (RE-AIM) framework.
This paper describes the rationale and methods of a trial designed to simultaneously study the clinical effectiveness and implementation of a telephone smoking cessation program for smokers using VA mental health clinics. Such hybrid designs are an important methodological design that can shorten the time between the development of an intervention and its translation into routine clinical care.
Tobacco; Smoking; Mental health; Intervention; Implementation; Psychiatry
There is increasing emphasis on screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment (SBIRT) for unhealthy alcohol use in the general hospital, as highlighted by new Joint Commission recommendations on SBIRT. However, the evidence supporting this approach is not as robust relative to primary care settings. This review is targeted to hospital-based clinicians and administrators who are responsible for generally ensuring the provision of high quality care to patients presenting with a myriad of conditions, one of which is unhealthy alcohol use. The review summarizes the major issues involved in caring for patients with unhealthy alcohol use in the general hospital setting, including prevalence, detection, assessment of severity, reduction in drinking with brief intervention, common acute management scenarios for heavy drinkers, and discharge planning. The review concludes with consideration of Joint Commission recommendations on SBIRT for unhealthy alcohol use, integration of these recommendations into hospital work flows, and directions for future research.
Alcohol drinking; Alcoholism; Hospitalization; Patient discharge
Alcohol consumption during pregnancy can result in a range of adverse pregnancy outcomes including Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). Risky drinking among Russian women constitutes a significant risk for alcohol-exposed pregnancies (AEP). Russian women report that obstetrics and gynecology (OB/GYN) physicians are the most important source of information about alcohol consumption during pregnancy and developing effective prevention interventions by OB/GYNs is indicated. This is the first study focused on implementation of an AEP prevention intervention at women’s clinics in Russia.
The paper describes the intervention protocol and addresses questions about the feasibility of a brief FASD prevention intervention delivered by OB/GYNs at women’s clinics in Russia. Brief physician intervention guidelines and two evidence-based FASD prevention interventions were utilized to design a brief dual-focused physician intervention (DFBPI) appropriate to Russian OB/GYN care. The questions answered were whether trained OB/GYN physicians could deliver DFBPI during women’s routine clinic visits, whether they maintained skills over time in clinical settings, and which specific intervention components were better maintained. Data were collected as part of a larger study aimed at evaluating effectiveness of DFBPI in reducing AEP risk in non-pregnant women. Methods of monitoring the intervention delivery included fidelity check lists (FCL) with the key components of the intervention completed by physicians and patients and live and audio taped observations of intervention sessions. Physicians (N = 23) and women (N = 372) independently completed FCL, and 78 audiotapes were coded.
The differences between women’s and physicians’ reports on individual items were not significant. Although the majority of physician and patient reports were consistent (N = 305), a discrepancy existed between the reports in 57 cases. Women reported more intervention components missing compared to physicians (p < 0.001). Discussing barriers was the most difficult component for physicians to implement, and OB/GYN demonstrated difficulties in discussing contraception methods.
The results supported the feasibility of the DFBPI in Russia. OB/GYN physicians trained in the DFBPI, monitored, and supported were able to implement and maintain skills during the study. In addition to the alcohol focus, DFBPI training needs to have a sufficient component to improve physicians’ skills in discussing contraception use.
In 2009, 27% of the 48,100 estimated new cases of HIV were attributed to heterosexual contact with an infected or at-risk person. Sexually active adults are less likely to use condoms in relationships with main partners than with non-regular partners, despite general knowledge that condom use reduces HIV transmission.
The purpose of this secondary qualitative analysis was to explore and contextualize perceptions of main partnerships, HIV risk, and attitudes toward condom use within main partner relationships among a subsample of intervention-arm cocaine- and/or heroin-using patients enrolled in a negative trial of brief motivational intervention to reduce the incidence of sexually transmitted disease and unsafe sexual behaviors. The open-ended portion of these interview audiotapes consisted of questions about perceptions of risk and attitudes about condom use with main partners. Enrollees were aged 18-54, English or Spanish speaking, and included in this analysis only if they reported having a main partner. We identified codes and elaborated important themes through a standard inductive three step coding process, using HyperRESEARCH™ software.
Among 48 interviewees, 65% were male, half were non-Hispanic white, over 60% were 20-39 years of age, 58% had intravenous drug use (IDU), and 8% were HIV-positive. Participants defined respect, support, trust, and shared child-rearing responsibility as the most valued components of main partner relationships. Condom use was viewed occasionally as a positive means of showing respect with main partners but more often as a sign of disrespect and a barrier to intimacy and affection. Enrollees appraised their partners’ HIV risk in terms of perceptions of physical health, cleanliness, and sexual and HIV testing history. They based decisions regarding condom use mainly on perceived faithfulness, length of involvement, availability of condoms, and pregnancy desirability.
Risk appraisal was commonly based on appearance and subjective factors, and condom use with main sexual partners was described most often as a demonstration of lack of trust and intimacy.
HIV; Main partner; Heterosexual transmission; Sexual profiling; Heroin; Cocaine; Intravenous drug use (IDU)
As a quality improvement metric, the US Veterans Health Administration (VHA) monitors the proportion of patients with alcohol use disorders (AUD) who receive FDA approved medications for alcohol dependence (naltrexone, acamprosate, and disulfiram). Evidence supporting the off-label use of the antiepileptic medication topiramate to treat alcohol dependence may be as strong as these approved medications. However, little is known about the extent to which topiramate is used in clinical practice. The goal of this study was to describe and examine the overall use, facility-level variation in use, and patient -level predictors of topiramate prescription for patients with AUD in the VHA.
Using national VHA administrative data in a retrospective cohort study, we examined time trends in topiramate use from fiscal years (FY) 2009–2012, and predictors of topiramate prescription in 375,777 patients identified with AUD (ICD-9-CM codes 303.9x or 305.0x) treated in 141 VHA facilities in FY 2011.
Among VHA patients with AUD, rates of topiramate prescription have increased from 0.99% in FY 2009 to 1.95% in FY 2012, although substantial variation across facilities exists. Predictors of topiramate prescription were female sex, young age, alcohol dependence diagnoses, engagement in both mental health and addiction specialty care, and psychiatric comorbidity.
Veterans Health Administration facilities are monitored regarding the extent to which patients with AUD are receiving FDA-approved pharmacotherapy. Not including topiramate in the metric, which is prescribed more often than acamprosate and disulfiram combined, may underestimate the extent to which VHA patients at specific facilities and overall are receiving pharmacotherapy for AUD.
Alcohol use disorders; Addiction; Pharmacotherapy; Topiramate; Pharmacotherapy utilization; Veterans
Practitioners in federally-assisted substance use disorder (SUD) treatment programs are faced with increasingly complex decisions when addressing patient confidentiality issues. Recent policy changes, intended to make treatment more available and accessible, are having an impact on delivery of SUD treatment in the United States. The addition of electronic health records provides opportunity for more rapid and comprehensive communication between patients’ primary and SUD care providers while promoting a collaborative care environment. This shift toward collaborative care is complicated by the special protections that SUD documentation receives in SUD treatment programs, which vary depending on what care is provided and the setting where the patient is treated. This article explores the special protections for substance abuse documentation, discrepancies in treatment documentation, ways to deal with these issues in clinical practice, and the need for more knowledge about how to harmonize treatment in the SUD and primary care systems.
Electronic health records; Substance use disorders treatment, Patient confidentiality
Electronic screening and brief intervention (e-SBI) is a promising alternative to screening and brief intervention by health-care providers, but its efficacy in the hospital outpatient setting, which serves a large proportion of the population, has not been established. The aim of this study is to estimate the effect of e-SBI in hospital outpatients with hazardous or harmful drinking.
This randomized controlled trial will be conducted in the outpatient department of a large tertiary referral hospital in Newcastle (population 540,000), Australia. Some 772 adults with appointments at a broad range of medical and surgical outpatient clinics who score 5–9 inclusive on the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test-Consumption (AUDIT-C) subscale will be randomly assigned in a 1:1 ratio to electronic alcohol screening alone (control) or to e-SBI. As randomization will be effected by computer, researchers and participants (who will be invited to participate in a study of alcohol use over time) will be blinded to group assignment. The primary analysis will be based on the intention-to-treat principle and compare weekly volume (grams of alcohol) and the full AUDIT score with a six-month reference period between the groups six months post randomization. Secondary outcomes, assessed six and 12 months after randomization, will include drinking frequency, typical occasion quantity, proportion who report binge drinking, proportion who report heavy drinking, and health-care utilization.
If e-SBI is efficacious in outpatient settings, it offers the prospect of systematically and sustainably reaching a large number of hazardous and harmful drinkers, many of whom do not otherwise seek or receive help.
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12612000905864.
Alcohol; Screening; Brief intervention; Internet; Intervention; Clinical trials; Hospital outpatients