Physician receives $3M grant from NIAAA to validate teen alcohol-screening initiative

Published on April 23, 2013 at 9:26 AM · No Comments

Hasbro Children's Hospital emergency medicine physician James Linakis, M.D., Ph.D, was recently awarded a five-year, $3.2 million grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to validate a more efficient test to screen teenagers for future alcohol abuse and other risk behaviors. Linakis will be joined on the multi-site study by co-principal investigator Anthony Spirito, Ph.D., ABPP, professor of psychiatry & human behavior at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.

The project, titled "Teen Alcohol Screening in the Pediatric Emergency Care Applied Research Network (PECARN)," will utilize 16 children's hospital sites to determine if the NIAAA two-question screen is an efficient and valid alcohol screening instrument among U.S. pediatric emergency department patients compared to the previously utilized more lengthy questionnaires.

"We know that the younger an individual starts to drink, the higher their risk for developing alcohol related issues later in life. We need to find the best way to catch this early," said Linakis.

Over the past few years, the NIAAA has focused on the importance of screening adolescents for alcohol problems, but the only screening tools have been relatively lengthy. A basic, two-question screening questionnaire was created that the NIAAA hopes will be predictive of both current and future alcohol problems in adolescents. It asks:

1. Do you drink alcohol? How much?

2. Do you have friends who drink alcohol?

 "This two-question screening is based on established literature, but it has never been validated. The NIAAA is asking for PECARN hospital sites to test the two-question screener, so we can make sure that the screening system works," said Linakis.

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