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Using practice facilitation to improve alcohol-related care in primary care: a mixed-methods pilot study protocol.

Bachrach RL, Chinman M, Rodriguez KL, Mor MK, Kraemer KL, Garfunkel CE, Williams EC. Using practice facilitation to improve alcohol-related care in primary care: a mixed-methods pilot study protocol. Addiction science & clinical practice. 2022 Mar 14; 17(1):19.

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BACKGROUND: Alcohol use is a significant risk factor for disability and death in U.S. adults, and approximately one out of every six Veterans seen in primary care (PC) report unhealthy alcohol use. Unhealthy alcohol use is associated with increased risk for poor medical outcomes, substantial societal costs, and death, including suicide. Based on substantial evidence from randomized controlled trials and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, VA/DoD clinical guidelines stipulate that all Veterans screening positive for unhealthy alcohol use should receive evidence-based alcohol care in PC, including brief counseling interventions (BI) and additional treatment (e.g., pharmacotherapy) for those with alcohol use disorders (AUD). The VA pioneered implementing alcohol screening and BI in PC, yet substantial implementation gaps remain. To improve alcohol-related care, this study will conduct a pilot study to assess whether a multi-faceted evidence-based implementation strategy-practice facilitation-has the potential to improve PC-based alcohol-related care at a single VA clinic. METHODS: We will first recruit and conduct qualitative interviews with Veterans with unhealthy alcohol use (n? = 20-25) and PC stakeholders (N? = 10-15) to understand barriers and facilitators to high-quality alcohol care and use results to refine and hone the multifaceted practice facilitation intervention. Qualitative interviews, analysis, and refinement of the intervention will be guided by the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research (CFIR). Focus groups with a small sample of PC providers and staff (n? = 5-7) will be used to further refine the practice facilitation intervention and assess its acceptability and feasibility. The refined practice facilitation intervention will then be offered in the PC clinic to assess implementation (e.g., reach) and effectiveness (reduced drinking) outcomes based on the RE-AIM framework. DISCUSSION: This research directly addresses one of the largest public health crises of our time, as alcohol kills more people than opioids and is associated with increased risk of suicide. If successful, this pilot may generate an intervention with far-reaching effects on adverse outcomes experienced by Veterans with unhealthy alcohol use, including increased access to care and suicide prevention. Trial registration identifier: NCT04565899; Date of registration: 9/25/2020.

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