Practice Facilitation to Promote Evidence-based Screening and Management of Unhealthy Alcohol Use in Primary Care PROJECT SUMMARY Unhealthy alcohol use is the third leading cause of preventable death in the US. Evidence shows that screening for unhealthy alcohol use and providing persons engaged in risky drinking with brief behavioral counseling interventions improves health outcomes, collectively termed screening and brief intervention (SBI). For moderate or severe alcohol use disorder (AUD), medication assistance therapy (MAT) is effective. Despite clear evidence of effectiveness, only 13% of primary care patients are screened with a standard instrument and only 6.7% of adults with AUD receive treatment. We believe that underutilization of SBI and MAT are driven by both a misunderstanding of the role and effectiveness of primary care in addressing unhealthy alcohol and limited practice resource and infrastructure. To promote the dissemination and implementation of evidence-based strategies to address unhealthy alcohol use throughout Virginia, we have extended our EvidenceNow collaboration to include addiction medicine experts at Virginia Commonwealth University, the Virginia Ambulatory Care Outcomes Research Network (ACORN), our state's family medicine residency training programs, and our state's Community Service Boards. We propose a practice-level cluster randomized trial with wait list control. 125 primary care practices in five regions throughout the state, each centered around a residency site for educational support, will receive a practice facilitation intervention to implement screening, counseling, and treatment for unhealthy alcohol at intervention start or 6-month delay. Guided by the identified EvidenceNow key drivers for change, practice support will include practice facilitation, education and training, shared learning and best practices, screening and counseling toolkits, data support, and assessment with feedback. Each practice will identify a clinician, nurse, and administrator champion to locally lead efforts and participate in learning collaboratives. Practices will design and implement screening, counseling, and treatment processes and operational changes, adapting their implementation strategy based on experiences and findings from other sites. We will conduct a mixed methods analysis. Primary outcomes will include the increase in screening for unhealthy alcohol use, increase in provision of brief counseling interventions and MAT, and reduction in alcohol intake for patients after practices receive practice facilitation. We will use the consolidated framework for implementation research to code and rate practice facilitation (e.g. dose, mode, reach) and practice implementation strategies (e.g. SBI and MAT strategies and tools implemented) on outcomes. Data sources will include practice facilitator field notes and interviews, chart reviews, patient survey, clinician survey, All Payer Claims Data, and qualitative interviews. We will administer the patient survey at baseline, 3 months, and 6 months after the intervention. Among patients age 18 to 75 with an office visit the prior month, we will randomly select 60 to survey. In addition to our internal evaluation, we will participate in the external collaborative evaluation and dissemination activities with AHRQ throughout the project.

Public Health Relevance

Despite evidence demonstrating benefit for screening and brief counseling for risky drinking and medication assistance therapy for alcohol use disorder, these preventive services are poorly delivered in primary care. We will provide practice support to 125 primary care practices in five regions of Virginia to improve the delivery of this preventive service and to develop screening and treatment protocols using existing resources. Throughout the process we will measure the practices success with implementing their new protocols, provide iterative feedback, encourage adaptive redesign of implementation approaches, and identify factors that predict success.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)
Research Demonstration and Dissemination Projects (R18)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZHS1)
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Mcnellis, Robert
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Virginia Commonwealth University
Family Medicine
Schools of Medicine
United States
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