In 2016, the International Network on Brief Interventions for Alcohol & Other Drugs convened a meeting titled "Rethinking alcohol interventions in health care". The aims of the meeting were to synthesize recent evidence about screening and brief intervention and to set directions for research, practice, and policy in light of this evidence. Screening and brief intervention is efficacious in reducing self-reported alcohol consumption for some with unhealthy alcohol use, but there are gaps in evidence for its effectiveness. Because screening and brief intervention is not known to be efficacious for individuals with more severe unhealthy alcohol use, recent data showing the lack of evidence for referral to treatment as part of screening and brief intervention are alarming. While screening and brief intervention was designed to be a population-based approach, its reach is limited. Implementation in real world care also remains a challenge. This report summarizes practice, research, and policy recommendations and key research developments from our meeting. In order to move the field forward, a research agenda was proposed to (1) address evidence gaps in screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment, (2) develop innovations to address severe unhealthy alcohol use within primary care, (3) describe the stigma of unhealthy alcohol use, which obstructs progress in prevention and treatment, (4) reconsider existing conceptualizations of unhealthy alcohol use that may influence health care, and (5) identify efforts needed to improve the capacity for addressing unhealthy alcohol consumption in all world regions.
Keywords: Alcohol; Alcohol dependence; Brief intervention; Harmful alcohol use; Hazardous alcohol use; Health care; International; Referral to treatment; Research agenda; Screening.