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Alcohol Alcohol. 2006 Jul-Aug;41(4):438-45. Epub 2006 May 5.

Telephone screening for hazardous drinking among injured patients seen in acute care clinics: feasibility study.

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University of Colorado School of Medicine, Colorado Injury Control Research Center, Denver, USA.



We evaluated the effectiveness of telephoning injured patients after discharge, compared with contacting them in the clinic during the acute care visit, for screening for hazardous drinking and eliciting willingness to participate in a lifestyle intervention trial.


We conducted a quasi-randomized controlled trial among acutely injured adult patients in trauma and acute care clinics, assigning telephone and clinic screening strategies systematically by week. During telephone weeks, we mailed study information to patients identified from computerized records, then telephoned them. During clinic weeks, researchers recruited patients awaiting care. We screened for hazardous drinking using the AUDIT-C (Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test-C). We examined the proportion of all injured adult patients who were screened, the proportion of screened patients with hazardous drinking (AUDIT-C score >or=4), and the proportion willing to participate in a (hypothetical) lifestyle intervention trial. Differences were analysed with non-linear mixed models using generalized estimating equations, controlling for age, sex, and facility. Levers and barriers to screening were explored through structured interviews with research staff.


We enrolled 29% (469/1,609) of all injured adult patients and 76% of injured patients contacted and found to be eligible. Of screened patients, 23.1% screened positive for hazardous drinking. Telephone and clinic contact were equally effective for screening patients (OR = 1.05; 95% CI = 0.59-1.87), identifying hazardous drinking (OR=0.97; 95% CI = 0.54-1.74), and eliciting willingness to participate in an intervention trial (OR=1.49; 95% CI = 0.97-2.30). Clinic site modified results: telephone was more effective than clinic contact for screening urban patients (OR=1.99; 95% CI = 1.36-2.93), but less effective for screening suburban patients (OR = 0.70; 95% CI = 0.69-0.71). Barriers to clinic screening included lack of clinic staff support, time constraints, and difficulty recruiting elderly or acutely distressed patients. Barriers to telephone screening included erroneous contact information and failure to answer the telephone.


Telephone screening is a feasible and efficient method for screening moderately injured adult patients for hazardous drinking, but characteristics of the clinical site (including personnel) influence its effectiveness. Trauma and acute care clinics are likely to be fruitful sites for identification of patients with hazardous drinking, whether for enrollment into brief intervention trials or treatment programmes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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