Objective: To determine whether priming adolescent patients to discuss alcohol with their primary care providers and prompting providers to discuss alcohol increases adolescent-provider communication about alcohol.
Design: Randomized controlled trial.
Setting: Five managed care group practices in Washington, DC.
Participants: Consecutive patients aged 12 to 17 years who were seeing primary care providers (n = 26) for health checkups. Of 892 eligible adolescents, 444 (50%) were randomized and completed data collection. Most adolescents (80%) were African American, 55% were male, and 17% currently drank alcohol.
Intervention: Usual care (group 1) vs adolescent priming with alcohol self-assessment and education just before their health checkups (group 2) vs adolescent priming and provider prompting with the adolescent's self-assessment and a patient education brochure (group 3).
Main outcome measures: This exploratory substudy of a longitudinal study on adolescent alcohol behaviors examined adolescent-provider communication by adolescent exit survey, researcher observation, and audiotapes of a subsample of visits.
Results: More adolescents in group 3 (96%) than group 1 (87%) reported that their provider talked about alcohol (adjusted odds ratio [OR], 1.10; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.04-1.17). More adolescents in group 3 (18%) than group 1 (10%) reported asking about alcohol (adjusted OR, 1.08; 95% CI, 1.00-1.16). The mean +/- SD number of minutes adolescents were with their providers without parents being present was greater for group 3 (10.8 +/- 7.6) than group 1 (8.8 +/- 8.0). Adolescents in group 2 spent more time with their provider and reported initiating more discussion not specific to alcohol than did group 1 adolescents.
Conclusion: Adolescent priming and provider prompting increases adolescent-provider communication about alcohol.