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J Drug Educ. 2004;34(1):33-40.

Is screening and brief advice for problem drinkers by clergy feasible? A survey of clergy.

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  • 1Case Western Reserve University.


Routine screening for alcohol abuse in primary care, with brief advice to stop drinking for those screening positive, can detect individuals with alcohol problems and reduce alcohol use and alcohol induced problems in those detected. Not everyone with alcohol problems sees a physician regularly, however, and not all respond to a physician's brief advice. To explore the feasibility of expanding screening for alcohol problems to clergy, we did a mailed survey to 315 clergy at Christian churches in Cleveland, Ohio. Clergy reported a variety of views about alcohol use and abuse, but most agreed that alcoholism is a disease. They indicated counseling a significant number of parishioners, and were receptive to learning brief screening questions to detect alcohol problems. We conclude that many clergy would be interested in a strategy of screening and then giving brief advice or referral to individuals found to have alcohol problems.

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