(HealthDay News) – The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends primary care screening for alcohol misuse for all adults aged 18 years and older, and further recommends providing brief counseling interventions for those who engage in risky or hazardous behavior, according to a Recommendation Statement published in the May 14 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Virginia A. Moyer, MD, MPH, and colleagues from the USPSTF, conducted a systematic literature review to update the 2004 recommendation statement on primary care screening and behavioral counseling interventions to reduce alcohol misuse. New evidence was considered relating to the effectiveness of screening for improving health outcomes; the accuracy of screening approaches; the effectiveness of behavioral counseling interventions; the harms of screening and interventions; and influences from the health care system that encourage or diminish effective screening and counseling.

Based on these findings, the Task Force recommends alcohol misuse screening for adults aged ≥18 years, and recommends provision of brief behavioral counseling for those engaged in risky or hazardous drinking (Grade B recommendation). The evidence was determined to be insufficient to assess the balance of benefits and harms of screening and interventions to reduce alcohol misuse among adolescents.

“Alcohol misuse is the cause of tens of thousands of deaths per year in the United States – deaths that could have been prevented,” Task Force member Sue Curry, PhD, said in a statement. “The good news is that primary care professionals can identify adults who engage in risky or hazardous drinking, and through brief counseling, help them drink more responsibly.”

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