Self-Reported Prevalence of Alcohol Screening Among U.S. Adults

Published:October 28, 2015DOI:


      The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends for adults alcohol screening and brief behavioral counseling interventions in primary care settings. However, there is a paucity of population-based data on the prevalence of alcohol screening. This study examines adherence to this U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendation by estimating the prevalence of alcohol screening by demographic characteristics and binge drinking.


      A cross-sectional analysis was conducted in 2013 and 2014 on data from the 2013 fall wave of the ConsumerStyles survey. ConsumerStyles is drawn from an Internet panel randomly recruited by probability-based sampling to be representative of the U.S. population. Data from 2,592 adult respondents who visited primary care physicians in the last year were analyzed to determine the prevalence of alcohol screening.


      Only 24.7% of respondents reported receiving alcohol screening. The prevalence of screening was similar among women (24.9%) and men (24.5%). Black non-Hispanics reported a significantly lower prevalence of screening than white non-Hispanics (16.2% vs 26.9%, prevalence ratio=0.60, 95% CI=0.40, 0.90). College graduates reported a significantly higher prevalence of screening than respondents with a high school degree or less (28.1% vs 20.8%, prevalence ratio=1.35, 95% CI=1.08, 1.69).


      Only about one in four respondents who visited a primary care physician in the last year reported being screened for alcohol misuse. Therefore, many men and women who misuse alcohol are unlikely to be identified. Increased screening may help reduce alcohol misuse and related negative health outcomes.
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