Alcohol Use Screening and Behavioral Counseling With Adolescents in Primary Care: A Call to Action

April 19, 2022
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In contrast to recommendations from other professional organizations, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) found that the evidence is insufficient regarding the benefits and harms of alcohol use screening and behavioral counseling with adolescents in the primary care setting. McCarty, Levy, and Harris consider reasons for this incongruence and consider how the broader research base might inform thinking about whether to screen and/or counsel adolescents on substance use. They reason that screening can help primary care professionals guide their clinical care and management, alter medication choices based on alcohol use, and provide an opportunity to offer preventive guidance and positive reinforcement. They view the USPSTF’s recommendation as a call to action; and call for a research agenda that will address the gap in evidence and provide sufficient information for a definitive statement on the topic.

Carolyn A. McCarty, Sharon Levy, & Sion Kim Harris