Research from the University of Pittsburgh shows that a single-question alcohol screening process would be best for detecting adolescents who have a greater risk of developing alcohol problems.
The study received funds from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), which is part of the National Institute of Health (NIH). The goal was to determine what kind of screening process is best for adolescents.
“Primary care physicians are encouraged to screen adolescents for alcohol problems, yet many do not, citing time constraints and other issues,” NIAAA Director George Koob said. “This study demonstrates that simple screening tools such as those in NIAAA’s Youth Guide are efficient and effective.”
The researchers partnered with several different rural primary care practitioners to learn that the data supports the age-based screening thresholds currently in place. These are listed in the NIAAA’s "Alcohol Screening and Brief Intervention for Youth: A Practitioner’s Guide."
The study involved approximately 1,200 young people between the ages of 12 and 20. All were given screening questions on a computer to identify their alcohol use and whether they had an alcohol use disorder (AUD).
“This finding confirms that a single question can be an effective screen for AUD,” Duncan Clark, professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, said. “We found that this information could be readily collected through our tablet computer system in busy rural clinic settings.”