Background: Population-based estimates for the prevalence of smokers receiving advice from a health professional to quit smoking and the prevalence of binge drinkers being talked to about alcohol use are lacking for U.S. adults. This information is useful for clinicians and public health professionals.
Methods: Data are from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, a continuous random-digit-dial telephone survey of U.S. adults. In 1997, 10 states collected data on these health interventions for tobacco and alcohol use. The prevalence of professional advice to quit smoking and about alcohol use was calculated and examined by demographic characteristics. The number of at-risk adults who had a routine checkup in the last year and had not received these interventions was also estimated.
Results: By self-report, 70% of smokers were advised to quit, and 23% of binge drinkers were talked to about their alcohol use. Using multivariate logistic regression analyses, we found among smokers that women and older persons were more likely to receive advice; among binge drinkers, health intervention was more likely to occur for men and non-Hispanic blacks. Across the 10 states, approximately 2 million smokers and 2 million binge drinkers with a routine checkup in the past 12 months were not advised to quit smoking or talked to about their alcohol use.
Conclusions: Many opportunities to intervene with smokers and binge drinkers are lost. Efforts to increase physician education and to identify and reduce other barriers may help.