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Provider, Patient, and Family Perspectives of Adolescent Alcohol Use and Treatment in Rural Settings

Authors

  • Adam J. Gordon MD, MPH,

    1. University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
    2. Mental Illness Research, Education, and Clinical Center, VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
    3. Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion, VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
    4. Center for Research on Healthcare, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
    5. Northwest Pennsylvania Adolescent Alcohol Research Cooperative, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
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  • Lorraine Ettaro PhD, MPH,

    1. Northwest Pennsylvania Adolescent Alcohol Research Cooperative, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
    2. Center for Rural Health Practice, University of Pittsburgh, Bradford, Pennsylvania
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  • Keri L. Rodriguez PhD,

    1. Mental Illness Research, Education, and Clinical Center, VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
    2. Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion, VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
    3. Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center, VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
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  • John Mocik MSW,

    1. Northwest Pennsylvania Adolescent Alcohol Research Cooperative, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
    2. Center for Rural Health Practice, University of Pittsburgh, Bradford, Pennsylvania
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  • Duncan B. Clark MD, PhD

    1. University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
    2. Northwest Pennsylvania Adolescent Alcohol Research Cooperative, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
    3. Pittsburgh Adolescent Alcohol Research Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
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  • This study was supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) from grants U01AA016482 (PI: Clark) and K02AA00291 (PI: Clark). The authors wish to acknowledge Margaret Krumm, BA, for her assistance in editing this manuscript. The authors affirm that they have listed everyone who has contributed significantly to the work of this manuscript. For further information, contact: Adam J. Gordon, MD, MPH, FACP, FASAM, CHERP; Mailcode 151-C-H, 7180 Highland Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15206; e-mail adam.gordon@va.gov.

Abstract

Purpose: We examined rural primary care providers’ (PCPs) self-reported practices of screening, brief interventions, and referral to treatment (SBIRT) on adolescent alcohol use and examined PCPs’, adolescents’, and parents’ attitudes regarding SBIRT on adolescent alcohol use in rural clinic settings.

Methods: In 2007, we mailed surveys that inquired about alcohol-related knowledge, attitudes, and treatment practices of adolescent alcohol use to all PCPs in 8 counties in rural Pennsylvania who may have treated adolescents. We then conducted 7 focus groups of PCPs and their staffs (n = 3), adolescents (n = 2), and parents (n = 2) and analyzed the narratives using structured grounded theory, evaluating for consistent or discordant themes.

Results: Twenty-seven PCPs from 7 counties returned the survey. While 92% of PCPs felt that routine screening for alcohol use should begin by age 14, 84% reportedly screened for alcohol use occasionally, and reportedly 32% screened all adolescent patients. The provider focus groups (n = 20 PCPs/staff) related that SBIRT for alcohol use for adolescents was not currently effective. Poor provider training, lack of alcohol screening tools, and lack of referral treatment options were identified barriers. Adolescents (n = 12) worried that physicians would not maintain confidentiality. Parents (n = 12) acknowledged a parental contribution to adolescent alcohol use. All groups indicated computer-based methods to screen for alcohol use among adolescents may facilitate PCP engagement.

Conclusions: Despite awareness that rural adolescent alcohol use is a significant problem, PCPs, adolescents, and parents recognize that SBIRT for adolescent alcohol use in rural PCP settings is ineffective, but it may improve with computer-based screening and intervention techniques.

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