The alcohol treatment field has focused on promoting screening and brief intervention (SBI) in medically based settings, particularly primary care. In this Commentary, we consider the potential unintended consequences for disparities in access to care for alcohol problems. National data show significant racial/ethnic and socioeconomic differences in the rates at which at-risk drinkers and persons with alcohol use disorders come into contact with primary care providers. This suggests that implementing SBI in mostly primary care settings could inadvertently widen the gap in alcohol-related health disparities. To ensure that all populations in need benefit from this evidence-based treatment, SBI should be considered and adapted for a wider range of service venues, including Federally Qualified Health Centers and venues frequented by racial/ethnic minorities and the uninsured.
2011 by the Research Society on Alcoholism.