Clinical Suspicion Fails to Identify Patients with Drinking Problems
A new study supports primary care physicians’ routine use of a systematic screening tool to identify alcohol(Drug information on alcohol) problems in patients. Published recently in Annals of Family Medicine, the study assessed the accuracy of clinical suspicion compared with screening-detected alcohol problems in patients.
Ninety-four primary care clinicians’ offices participated. Both physicians and patients completed questionnaires after a patient visit. Patients were screened for hazardous and harmful drinking, and physicians were asked if they thought each patient had a drinking problem.
Of the patients screened, 10% (n=171) screened positive for hazardous drinking and 4% (n=64) for harmful drinking, according to the validated screening instruments. In contrast, physicians identified only 5% (n=81) of patients with hazardous or harmful drinking behaviors. Of those 81 patients, 50 screened positive for harmful or hazardous drinking behavior.
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