Our goal is to validate the NIAAA Guide with youth with chronic medical conditions (YCMC) to facilitate standardized screening and improve the response capability of physicians who regularly interact with them. YCMC are a large and expensive population uniquely vulnerable to harm from drinking given the potential for alcohol to negatively interact with both their underlying health condition and its treatment. We take a novel approach, collecting a battery of assessment information from 400 assented/consented youth (ages 9-18 years) being treated at Children's Hospital Boston for one of four target conditions (asthma, diabetes, a rheumatic disorder or ulcerative colitis;100 each). Participants will complete an electronic version of the NIAAA guide and an assessment battery comprised of a structured diagnostic interview for alcohol use disorders, a measure of frequency/quantity of alcohol use;a brief interview about friends'use of alcohol and additional brief structured report about medication adherence, quality of life and depressive symptoms. Information on chronic disease status and alcohol risk factors will be obtained via chart review, with input from a team of clinical collaborators with domain expertise in target conditions.
Specific Aims are to:
Aim 1) validate an NIAAA-Guide based screening algorithm against gold standard measures of alcohol use disorders in the study population, testing the hypothesis that the Guide will yield sensitivity and specificity >.75 for correctly identifying the group of YCMC who have problematic use/ abuse or alcohol dependence. We will use the bootstrap method of re-sampling to estimate 95% confidence intervals about each measure of sensitivity, specificity, and positive and negative predictive values;
Aim 2) Evaluate associations between alcohol risk categories established by the NIAAA Guide and measures of other substance use, chronic disease and overall health status and disease management testing hypotheses that (i) Youth with alcohol use problems or disorders will be more likely to use other substances, and will score significantly lower on measures of global health, treatment adherence and chronic disease status, and (ii) consideration of chronic disease- related alcohol risks expands the proportion of youth who fall within the problem use range. We will use Generalized Estimating Equations logistic regression analysis to identify significant differences among those with problem use, abuse and dependence vs. those without on scale scores and other continuous measures of global health and markers of chronic disease status, controlling for moderators and the complex sample design in which participants are nested within clinics and;
Aim 3) Develop recommendations for clinician guidance and health messages for inclusion in the Guide for use with YCMC, generated in a modified Delphi process with 20 clinician experts and field tested with patients. Deliverables are a validated, electronic screening tool that triages YCMC into actionable risk groups, contains guidance and examples of field-tested, salient, alcohol related advice, and baseline measures and an initial cohort for a continued prospective study.

Public Health Relevance

Alcohol use is a serious health threat to the 26% youth in the US with chronic medical conditions. While alcohol use can significantly impact an underlying illness and its safe/effective management, medical specialists rarely screen their adolescent patients for alcohol use. We will validate a new, brief alcohol- screening tool with 9-18 year old youth with chronic medical conditions. Comprehensive assessment information will be collected and analyzed to describe relationships between youth alcohol use, other substance use, and chronic disease outcomes and findings integrated into the validated screen as actionable clinician guidance and health advice.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
Research Project (R01)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZAA1-DD (08))
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Falk, Daniel
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Children's Hospital Boston
United States
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