Variation in Documented Care for Unhealthy Alcohol Consumption Across Race/Ethnicity in the Department of Veterans Affairs Healthcare System

Center of Excellence in Substance Abuse Treatment and Education, VA Puget Sound Health Care System, Seattle, Washington.
Alcoholism Clinical and Experimental Research (Impact Factor: 3.21). 03/2012; 36(9):1614-22. DOI: 10.1111/j.1530-0277.2012.01761.x
Source: PubMed


The VA Healthcare System has made progress implementing evidence-based care for unhealthy alcohol use, but whether there are differences in care across race/ethnicity is unclear. We describe alcohol-related care for 3 racial/ethnic groups among VA outpatients with unhealthy alcohol use.
This cross-sectional study utilized secondary quality improvement data collected for the VA Office of Quality and Performance (July 2006 to June 2007) to identify a sample of 9,194 black (n = 1,436), Hispanic (n = 500), and white (n = 7,258) VA outpatients who screened positive for unhealthy alcohol use (AUDIT-C score ≥4 men; ≥3 women). Alcohol-related care was defined as medical record documentation of brief intervention (advice or feedback) and/or referral (discussion of or scheduled). Logistic regression models estimated the prevalence of alcohol-related care among black, Hispanic, and white patients after adjustment for sociodemographic characteristics, alcohol use severity, other substance use, and mental health comorbidity.
Among all eligible patients, 2,903 (32%) had documented alcohol-related care. Adjusted prevalences were 35.3% (95% CI 30.0 to 40.5) for black, 27.3% (95% CI 21.1 to 33.5) for Hispanic, and 28.9% (95% CI 25.5 to 32.3) for white patients. Differences in documented alcohol-related care between all racial/ethnic groups were significant (p-values all < 0.05).
Among VA patients with unhealthy alcohol use, black patients had the highest, and Hispanic the lowest, prevalence of documented alcohol-related care. Future research should evaluate contextual and system-, provider-, or patient-level factors that may attenuate racial/ethnic differences in documented alcohol-related care, as well as whether differences in documented care are associated with differences in outcomes.

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    • "However, these findings should be interpreted with caution due to the paucity of research examining racial/ethnic minorities, particularly with A/PIs and American Indians (Pole et al., 2008; Tsai and Kong, 2012; Wheatlin et al., 2013). Until more recently, veteran race/ethnicity has most often been categorized as black, Hispanic, white, and " other " due to missing race/ethnicity data in the VA healthcare system (Seal et al., 2007, 2009; Williams et al., 2012). Based on these categorizations, studies have found little variation in mental health diagnostic rates between black, Hispanic, white, and " other " veterans (Seal et al., 2007). "
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    ABSTRACT: Objective: This study sought to examine whether a web-delivered brief alcohol intervention (BAI) is effective for reducing alcohol misuse in U.S. military veterans presenting to primary care. Method: Veterans (N = 167) screening positive for alcohol misuse during a routine primary care visit were randomized to receive a BAI plus treatment as usual (TAU) or TAU alone. An assessment of alcohol-related outcomes was conducted at baseline and 3 and 6 months after treatment. Results: Veterans in both study conditions showed a significant reduction in alcohol quantity and frequency and alcohol-related problems at 6-month follow-up. No differential treatment effects on outcomes were observed between the two treatment groups. Conclusions: This study is the first to explore whether a web-delivered BAI using normative feedback is effective for veterans with alcohol misuse. Our findings suggest that BAIs using normative feedback may not have any additional benefit beyond TAU for older veterans with high rates of comorbid mental health concerns.
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