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More than three times as many Indigenous Australian clients at risk from drinking could be supported if clinicians used AUDIT-C instead of unstructured assessments

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posted on 09.05.2022, 06:53 authored by JH Conigrave, Kylie LeeKylie Lee, PS Haber, J Vnuk, MF Doyle, KM Conigrave
Background: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (‘Indigenous’) Australians experience a greater burden of disease from alcohol consumption than non-Indigenous peoples. Brief interventions can help people reduce their consumption, but people drinking at risky levels must first be detected. Valid screening tools (e.g., AUDIT-C) can help clinicians identify at-risk individuals, but clinicians also make unstructured assessments. We aimed to determine how frequently clinicians make unstructured risk assessments and use AUDIT-C with Indigenous Australian clients. We also aimed to determine the accuracy of unstructured drinking risk assessments relative to AUDIT-C screening. Finally, we aimed to explore whether client demographics influence unstructured drinking risk assessments. Methods: We performed cross-sectional analysis of a large clinical dataset provided by 22 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services in Australia. We examined instances where clients were screened with unstructured assessments and with AUDIT-C within the same two-monthly period. This aggregated data included 9884 observations. We compared the accuracy of unstructured risk assessments against AUDIT-C using multi-level sensitivity and specificity analysis. We used multi-level logistic regression to identify demographic factors that predict risk status in unstructured assessments while controlling for AUDIT-C score. Results: The primary variables were AUDIT-C score and unstructured drinking risk assessment; demographic covariates were client age and gender, and service remoteness. Clinicians made unstructured drinking risk assessments more frequently than they used AUDIT-C (17.11% and 10.85% of clinical sessions respectively). Where both measures were recorded within the same two-month period, AUDIT-C classified more clients as at risk from alcohol consumption than unstructured assessments. When using unstructured assessments, clinicians only identified approximately one third of clients drinking at risky levels based on their AUDIT-C score (sensitivity = 33.59% [95% CI 22.03, 47.52], specificity = 99.35% [95% CI 98.74, 99.67]). Controlling for AUDIT-C results and demographics (gender and service remoteness), clinicians using unstructured drinking risk assessments were more likely to classify older clients as being at risk from alcohol consumption than younger clients. Conclusions: Evidence-based screening tools like AUDIT-C can help clinicians ensure that Indigenous Australian clients (and their families and communities) who are at risk from alcohol consumption are better detected and supported.

Funding

This work was supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) through a Project Grant (#1105339), the Centre of Research Excellence in Indigenous Health and Alcohol (#1117198), and a practitioner Fellowship for K Conigrave (#1117582). P Haber was supported by a practitioner fellowship from the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF #1155320).

History

Publication Date

01/12/2022

Journal

Addiction Science and Clinical Practice

Volume

17

Issue

1

Article Number

ARTN 23

Pagination

11p.

Publisher

BMC

ISSN

1940-0632

Rights Statement

© The Author(s) 2022. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.