Managing Unhealthy Alcohol Use in Primary Care

NORC at the University of Chicago was awarded a contract with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, through the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to help primary care practices increase efforts to address patients' unhealthy alcohol use. The purpose of the AHRQ initiative is to advance a patient-centered health care system that integrates behavioral health through funding six grantee projects to increase screening, management, and treatment of unhealthy alcohol use in primary care with screening and brief intervention (SBI) and medication-assisted therapy (MAT). This work is funded by AHRQ's Patient-Centered Outcomes Research (PCOR) initiative, which identifies research findings that could significantly improve patient outcomes through broader implementation in clinical practice.

Unhealthy alcohol use, which affects approximately 30% of adults, is the third leading cause of preventable death and is associated with a wide range of adverse consequences related to physical and mental health, social outcomes, and economic problems. Despite the serious public health impact of unhealthy alcohol use and the demonstrated effectiveness of SBI and MAT, rates of screening, brief intervention, and treatment are low in primary care settings. This four-year initiative seeks to support dissemination and implementation of evidence-based SBI and MAT resources. It will increase primary care practices' access to evidence-based implementation practices and identify factors that facilitate their rapid uptake and thorough implementation.

NORC will work to develop a resource center, convene a technical expert panel, conduct an ongoing environmental scan, support a learning community of grantees, and evaluate grantee efforts. NORC's Resource Center for Primary Care Integration of SBI and MAT will provide opportunities for shared learning and knowledge dissemination via a learning community and access to organizational consultation, training, and evidence-based resources.

Six grantees will deliver evidence-based dissemination and implementation strategies to more than 700 primary care practices, conduct self-evaluations, and participate in a cross-grant evaluation. Working with grantees, NORC will conduct a rigorous mixed-methods multisite evaluation to assess recruitment and retention, effectiveness of dissemination and implementation, implementation and process outcomes, and sustainability.

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