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Work. 2009;32(2):165-9. doi: 10.3233/WOR-2009-0802.

Assessing barriers to change in drinking behavior: results of an online employee screening program.

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  • 1Department of Behavioral Sciences and Community Health, University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, CT, USA.



The impact of alcohol abuse on worker productivity is considerable and appears to be increasing over time. Although early screening and intervention may help prevent or reduce the damaging health and productivity effects of problem drinking, barriers to behavioral change may render broad-based prevention efforts ineffectual. This study examined the correlates of two potential barriers to changes in drinking behavior--underestimation of drinking and lack of knowledge of helping resources--using data from web-based employee alcohol screenings.


Anonymous screening data from 1185 employees of ten companies participating in the 2003 National Alcohol Screening Day were analyzed. The AUDIT, a 10-item screening instrument developed by the World Health Organization, was used to measure drinking behavior; employees' subjective assessments of their drinking were also obtained.


Over 53% of participants subjectively underestimated their drinking relative to their AUDIT results, and 58% of respondents did not know whether their medical insurance included benefits for alcohol treatment. Logistic regression analysis revealed that younger and male respondents tended to have the highest AUDIT scores and also (along with married respondents) were most likely to underestimate their drinking. Younger, unmarried respondents were least likely to be aware of their alcohol treatment insurance benefits.


Current corporate efforts to curtail problem drinking among employees may not adequately address barriers to change. Targeting at-risk employee groups for alcohol screening and dissemination of information about health insurance benefits and treatment options is recommended, as is providing personalized feedback based on screening results to raise awareness of at-risk drinking and available helping resources.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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