Brief Intervention in Hazardous Drinking: An Important Adjunct to Medical School ATOD Curriculum

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Most medical school alcohol, tobacco and other drug (ATOD) curricula emphasize the diagnosis and treatment of alcohol abuse and dependence, even though a significant amount of alcohol-related morbidity and mortality is associated with the hazardous use of alcohol. An increased emphasis on screening for hazardous drinking and the use of early intervention has been shown to be effective in reducing heavy drinking in the primary care setting. This paper describes a family medicine clerkship seminar on clinical preventive medicine that focuses on tobacco and alcohol use. Results indicate that students learn that brief intervention counseling can influence patient behavior and plan to continue to use it in future patient encounters. However, the low number of students electing to intervene in hazardous drinking suggests that more curricular time is needed to overcome student resistance to addressing the alcohol use patterns of their patients.

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