Electronic screening tool to triage teenagers and risk of substance misuse

July 28, 2014

An electronic screening tool that starts with a single question to assess the frequency of substance misuse appears to be an easy way to screen teenagers who visited a physician for routine medical care.

Substance use can cause illness and death in . Screening adolescents and intervening if there is substance use can reduce the burden of addiction. The American Academy of Pediatrics and other professional organizations recommend that primary care physicians screen adolescents for substance use.

The authors examined use of an electronic screening and assessment tool to triage adolescents into four categories regarding nontobacco substance use: no past-year alcohol or drug use, past-year use with a (SUD), mild or moderate SUD and severe SUD. The tool also can assess tobacco use. The study included 216 adolescent patients (ages 12 to 17 years) from outpatient centers at a pediatric hospital who completed the screening from June 2012 through March 2013. The screening started with a single question that assessed the frequency of past-year use in eight categories of , including alcohol, marijuana, cocaine and prescription drugs. Patients who reported use were asked additional questions.

For nontobacco substance use, 123 patients (57.7 percent) reported no past-year use, 49 (23 percent) reported use but didn't meet the criteria for SUD, 22 (10.3 percent) met the criteria for mild or moderate SUD and 19 (8.9 percent) met the criteria for severe SUD. Sensitivity and specificity were 100% and 84% for identifying non-tobacco substance use, 90% and 94% for substance use disorders, 100% and 94% for severe SUD, and 75% and 98% for nicotine dependence. No significant differences were found in sensitivity or specificity between the full tool and the frequency-only questions.

"Our findings suggest that frequency screening questions are also a valid and efficient means of triaging alcohol and drug use into clinically meaningful risk levels in adolescents."

Explore further: Study details risk factors for substance use disorders after manic episode

More information: JAMA Pediatr. Published online July 28, 2014. DOI: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2014.774

Related Stories

Study details risk factors for substance use disorders after manic episode

July 22, 2014
(Medical Xpress)—Adolescents with bipolar disorder are more likely to develop substance use disorders than adolescents without psychiatric disorders. Now, researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC) have identified ...

Study examines incidence, trend of substance use disorder among medical residents

December 3, 2013
Among anesthesiology residents entering primary training from 1975 to 2009, 0.86 percent had a confirmed substance use disorder during training, with the incidence of this disorder increasing over the study period and the ...

New substance abuse treatment resources focus on teens

January 23, 2014
Resources to help parents, health care providers, and substance abuse treatment specialists treat teens struggling with drug abuse, as well as identify and interact with those who might be at risk, were released today by ...

Parity laws for substance use disorders linked to increase in access to treatment

October 24, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—A study by researchers at Emory's Rollins School of Public Health suggests that parity legislation can potentially improve access to substance use disorder (SUD) treatment.

Access to medicaid-accepting substance use TX centers varies

January 14, 2014
(HealthDay)—Medicaid expansion to include substance use disorder (SUD) treatment does not guarantee access, particularly in underserved and rural counties, according to a study published online Dec. 25 in JAMA Psychiatry.

One question may gauge the severity of unhealthy drug and alcohol use

January 13, 2014
Primary care physicians seeking to determine whether a patient's drug or alcohol use is problematic often have to rely on lengthy questionnaires containing dozens of items with multiple response options.

Recommended for you

Brain disease seen in most football players in large report

July 25, 2017
Research on 202 former football players found evidence of a brain disease linked to repeated head blows in nearly all of them, from athletes in the National Football League, college and even high school.

Safety of medical devices not often evaluated by sex, age, or race

July 25, 2017
Researchers at Yale and the University of California-San Francisco have found that few medical devices are analyzed to consider the influence of their users' sex, age, or race on safety and effectiveness.

Why you should consider more than looks when choosing a fitness tracker

July 25, 2017
A UNSW study of five popular physical activity monitors, including Fitbit and Jawbone models, has found their accuracy differs with the speed of activity, and where they are worn.

Dog walking could be key to ensuring activity in later life

July 24, 2017
A new study has shown that regularly walking a dog boosts levels of physical activity in older people, especially during the winter.

Alcohol to claim 63,000 lives over next five years, experts warn

July 24, 2017
Alcohol consumption will cause 63,000 deaths in England over the next five years – the equivalent of 35 deaths a day – according to a new report from the University of Sheffield Alcohol Research Group.

Alcohol boosts recall of earlier learning

July 24, 2017
Drinking alcohol improves memory for information learned before the drinking episode began, new research suggests.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.