Preventing disparities in alcohol screening and brief intervention: the need to move beyond primary care

Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2011 Sep;35(9):1557-60. doi: 10.1111/j.1530-0277.2011.01501.x. Epub 2011 May 20.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alcohol-Related Disorders* / diagnosis
  • Alcohol-Related Disorders* / prevention & control
  • Alcohol-Related Disorders* / therapy
  • Alcoholism* / diagnosis
  • Alcoholism* / prevention & control
  • Alcoholism* / therapy
  • Central Nervous System Depressants / adverse effects
  • Ethanol / adverse effects
  • Ethnicity / education
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility*
  • Health Services Needs and Demand*
  • Health Status Disparities
  • Healthcare Disparities*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening*
  • Middle Aged
  • Primary Health Care
  • Psychotherapy, Brief*
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Young Adult


  • Central Nervous System Depressants
  • Ethanol