Reuters (9/25, Joelving) reports that in new draft recommendations released Monday, the US Preventive Services Task Force said that healthcare professionals should inquire into their patient’s drinking habits. The guidelines were released along with a review of past analyses that suggested counseling could help curb excessive drinking in individuals who are not full-blown alcoholics. Reuters quotes Dr. Daniel Jonas a lead researcher in the review as saying, “The really good interventions incorporate self-help materials, they incorporate an action plan made by the doctor and the patient — they’re not just a prescription.” The review was published online Sept. 25 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
CQ (9/25, Norman, Subscription Publication) reports that in its recommendations, the USPSTF urges that primary care practitioners screen all adults for alcohol misuse. According to the article, “the recommendation covers young adults over 18 and pregnant women but not teens ages 12 to 17, task force officials said.” It notes that “there’s insufficient evidence about whether it’s effective to do screening in that younger age group, said the task force, an independent panel of experts that reviews scientific evidence on health issues.” The task force “said alcohol misuse is a major public health problem and can play a role in many conditions, including liver disease, high blood pressure, certain cancers and depression,” CQ reports.
The New York Times (9/25, A14, Tavernise, Subscription Publication) reports that “after reviewing recent research, the panel concluded that primary care doctors and nurses could help patients cut down on drinking by offering a brief counseling session or a series of sessions.” The Times describes that “doctors would determine whether counseling was needed by asking a simple set of questions about alcohol use during the patient’s primary care visit.” Additionally, the article notes that “the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism considers more than 14 drinks a week excessive for men and more than seven drinks a week excessive for women.”
— “Screen all adults for alcohol misuse: task force, “Frederik Joelving, Reuters, September 24, 2012.