Use of Alcohol Screening and Brief Interventions
in Primary Care Settings:Implementation and Barriers

Subst Abus. 2004 Mar;25(1):27-36. doi: 10.1300/J465v25n01_05.


Although evidence indicates that brief alcohol screening and interventions are effective across primary care settings, implementation of these techniques has been problematic. The primary objective of this study was to determine current practices and barriers for screening and interventions with primary care patients across randomly selected clinics in a large health care system, the Veterans Health Administration. Focus groups and mailed structured surveys were used. Results from providers indicated that 85% of patients treated in primary care received some screening for alcohol use disorders. The CAGE was the predominant screening tool. The primary clinical focus was on treatment referrals for patients who met abuse/dependence criteria. Lack of time was the most important perceived barrier to implementing screening and brief alcohol interventions for at-risk and problem drinkers. Implications for implementation of screening and intervention programs for a range of drinkers (at-risk use, problem use, abuse, dependence) are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcoholism / epidemiology*
  • Alcoholism / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / methods*
  • Primary Health Care / methods*
  • Psychotherapy, Brief*