Adolescents' preference for substance abuse screening in primary care practice

Subst Abus. 2007;28(4):107-17. doi: 10.1300/J465v28n04_03.


Objective: To assess adolescents' preferences for substance abuse screening in primary medical care settings.

Design/methods: Twelve- to 18-year-old patients (N = 2133) arriving for routine care at a network of primary care sites completed an interview that included demographic items, the CRAFFT screen, and a questionnaire assessing preferences for screening method (paper questionnaire, computer, oral interview by nurse or doctor). A subgroup (n = 222) completed the CRAFFT directly on the computer.

Results: Across the entire sample, paper was the screening administration method most preferred (mean rank (MR) = 2.92, 95%CI 2.87-2.96) vs. computer (MR = 2.38, 2.33-2.43), nurse (MR = 2.43, 2.39-2.47), and doctor (MR = 2.30, 2.25-2.35). Among the participants who received the screening on the computer, however, computer (MR = 3.08, 95%CI 2.42-2.52) was statistically tied with paper (MR = 2.88, 2.75-3.02) and both were ranked significantly higher than nurse (MR = 2.06, 1.94-2.17) and doctor (MR = 1.98, 1.82-2.14). The findings were similar for participants' reports of being "very likely" to be honest when answering substance abuse screening questions.

Conclusions: Adolescents should ideally be screened for substance abuse using paper or computer questionnaires.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Child
  • Choice Behavior*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / methods*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'*
  • Primary Health Care / methods*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology*