The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), in partnership with Medscape, have produced a new online course that will help health care professionals screen youth for alcohol problems. This online course will provide fast, evidenced-based alcohol screening and brief intervention with youth. It was designed to help clinicians identify patients of all ages who are at risk and provide early intervention.
As reported via press release on August 12th on the NIAAA website, the online course presents three case scenarios of youth at differing risk levels for alcohol-related harm. These scenarios illustrate a streamlined, 4-step clinical process that is outlined in a guide called the Alcohol Screening and Brief Intervention for Youth: A Practitioners Guide. The guide was published in 2011 and was done in collaboration with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which recommends that all adolescents are screened regarding alcohol use.
Online course participants will learn how to use a quick two-question screening tool. One question in the online course asks about the drinking habits of the young person’s friends and the other question asks about their own drinking frequency and amount. This online course also teaches clinicians on how to conduct different levels of intervention depending on the degree of risk an individual displays. Participants will also receive an overview of brief motivational interviewing. The motivational interviewing technique is seen as an interactive, youth-friendly tool that is seen to have the best effectiveness for the adolescent demographic.
Underage drinking is a widespread and chronic public health problem. Alcohol is the most widely used substance among American youth. Young people between the ages of 12-20 drink 11 percent of all the alcohol consumed in the United States, and they often binge drink. In the 2009 National Survey on Drug and Alcohol Use, 6.9 million young people had 5 or more drinks on the same occasion at least once a month while 2.1 million young people consumed 5 or more drinks at least five days or more within a month.
Each year, 190.000 people under the age of 21 visit hospital emergency rooms stemming from alcohol-related injuries and 5,000 die as a result of underage drinking. Of those 5,000 deaths, 1900 (or about 40% of total fatalities) were the result of automobile crashes. Young people who drink have an increased risk of developing alcohol dependence issues into adulthood. As young people transition into their teenage years into late adolescence, they tend to drink more frequently and boys generally drink more than girls.
Overall, the online course was developed as a continue medical education course that health professionals can use to help reduce underage drinking that can easily fit into their practice. This online course also purports to provide a confidence boost for clinicians in the fact they can quickly identify patients in need of attention, assess the greatest and most current threat to their health, and manage their care and outcomes in the most efficient way possible.