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Racial/ethnic and gender differences in receipt of brief intervention among patients with unhealthy alcohol use in the U.S. Veterans Health Administration.

Chen JA, Glass JE, Bensley KMK, Goldberg SB, Lehavot K, Williams EC. Racial/ethnic and gender differences in receipt of brief intervention among patients with unhealthy alcohol use in the U.S. Veterans Health Administration. Journal of substance abuse treatment. 2020 Dec 1; 119:108078.

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OBJECTIVE: Brief intervention (BI) for unhealthy alcohol use is a top prevention priority for adults in the U.S, but rates of BI receipt vary across patients. We examine BI receipt across race/ethnicity and gender in a national cohort of patients from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)-the largest U.S. integrated healthcare system and a leader in implementing preventive care for unhealthy alcohol use. METHODS: Among 779,041 VA patients with documented race/ethnicity and gender who screened positive for unhealthy alcohol use (AUDIT-C score  =  5) between 10/1/09 and 5/30/13, we fit Poisson regression models to estimate the predicted prevalence of BI (EHR-documented advice to reduce or abstain from drinking) across race/ethnicity and gender. RESULTS: Rates of BI were lowest among Black women (67%), Black men (68%), and Asian/Pacific Islander women (68%), and highest among white men (75%), Hispanic men (75%), and Asian/Pacific Islander men (75%). A significant race/ethnicity by gender interaction indicated that the associations between race/ethnicity and gender with BI depended on the other factor. Gender differences were largest among Asian/Pacific Islander patients and were nonsignificant among American Indian/Alaska Native patients. Adjustment for covariates not expected to be on the causal pathway (e.g., age, year of AUDIT-C screen) slightly attenuated but did not change the direction of results. CONCLUSIONS: Receipt of BI for unhealthy alcohol use varied by race/ethnicity and gender, and the impact of one factor depended on the other. Black women, Black men, and Asian/Pacific Islander women had the lowest rates of receiving recommended alcohol-related care. We found these disparities in a healthcare system that has implemented universal alcohol screening and incentivized BI for all patients with unhealthy alcohol use, suggesting that reducing disparities in alcohol-related care may require targeted interventions.

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