Screening and brief intervention for alcohol problems among college students treated in a university hospital emergency department

Author(s): Helmkamp JC, Hungerford DW, Williams JM, Manley WG, Furbee PM, et al.


The authors evaluated a protocol to screen and provide brief interventions for alcohol problems to college students treated at a university hospital emergency department (ED). Of 2,372 drinkers they approached, 87% gave informed consent. Of those, 54% screened positive for alcohol problems (Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test score < or = 6). One half to two thirds of the students who screened positive drank 2 to 3 times a week, drank 7 or more drinks per typical drinking day, or had experienced alcohol dependence symptoms within the past year. Ninety-six percent of screen-positive students accepted counseling during their ED visit. Three quarters of those questioned at 3-month follow-up reported that counseling had been helpful and that they had decreased their alcohol consumption. The prevalence of alcohol problems, high rates of informed consent and acceptance of counseling, and improved outcomes suggest that the ED is an appropriate venue for engaging students at high risk for alcohol problems.

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