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Many Patients Approve of Nurses Delivering Alcohol Screening in Hospital

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Many hospital patients are comfortable with having nurses deliver screening and brief intervention for alcohol, a new study suggests. According to the researchers, the findings indicate that nurses can be important partners in helping to screen for hazardous drinking.

Medical News Today reports the U.S. Joint Commission recently approved new hospital accreditation measures regarding alcohol screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment (SBIRT) for all patients who are hospitalized. Until now, little has been known about inpatient opinions of alcohol screening delivered by healthcare professionals other than physicians.

The study included 355 hospital patients. The researchers found more than 84 percent of patients were generally accepting of nurse-delivered SBIRT.

SBIRT has three components:
• Screening: quickly assesses the extent of alcohol use
• Brief Intervention: a five- to 15-minute semi-structured discussion to raise awareness and motivation for reducing alcohol use
• Referral to Treatment: referral to specialty care for patients with more extensive alcohol use

“SBIRT is a brief conversation, about 10 to 15 minutes, about hazardous alcohol consumption,” study co-author Deborah S. Finnell said in a news release. “Healthcare team members could easily deliver SBIRT, assuming they are qualified. Since nurses provide 24-hour care in hospitals, nurses are most likely to have contact with patients compared with other healthcare team members, such as physicians and social workers.”

The findings appear online in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

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