NIH releases clinician’s guide for screening underage drinkers
Based on just two questions from a newly released guide, health care professionals could spot children and teenagers at risk for alcohol-related problems.
Akinso: Research shows that underage drinking has immediate and long term consequences: they include academic and social problems, injuries, and death, as well as risk for alcohol dependence and both functional and structural changes in the brain. To help find children and teenagers at risk for alcohol-related problems, the NIH has released a guide for health care professionals to screen for underage drinkers.
Faden: The name of the new guide is Alcohol Screening and Brief Intervention for Youth: A Practitioner's Guide
Akinso: Dr. Vivian Faden is from the NIH.
Faden: The new guide introduces a two question screening tool and an innovative youth alcohol risk estimator; the ideas that we help clinicians overcome the time constraints and other common barriers that keep them from doing as much youth alcohol screening as we would like.
Akinso: The American Academy of Pediatrics, clinical researchers, and health practitioners developed the guide together. Dr. Faden describes the two questions.
Faden: The two questions being asked, one asked about personal drinking frequency. And the other asked about friends drinking. They vary slightly for elementary, middle and high school ages. So the question on friends drinking which is the first question asked of the younger kids, might be like this—do you have any friends who drank beer, wine, or any drink containing alcohol in the past year. And then that might be followed by this—how about you in the past year on how many days have you had more than a few sips of beer, wine or any drink containing alcohol.
Akinso: Dr. Faden explains why asking these questions are important for the screening process.
Faden: It's important to ask both of these questions because the friends drinking question is an early warning signal and it's a very good predictor of future drinking. The personal drinking question or the frequency question is the best predictor of current risk for problems from current drinking in adolescence who are already drinking.
Akinso: Research has shown that over the course of adolescence, the proportion of youth who have had more than just a few sips of alcohol increases dramatically, from 7 percent of 12 year-olds to nearly 70 percent of 18-years-olds. Dr. Faden hopes the new guide will help develop new interventions for underage drinkers. For more information on the guide, visit www.niaaa.nih.gov. This is Wally Akinso from the NIH, Bethesda, Maryland.
About This Audio Report
Reporter: Wally Akinso
Sound Bite: Dr. Faden
Topic: Alcohol, drinking, underage
Additional Info: NIH releases clinician’s guide for screening underage drinkers