EvidenceNOW: Managing Unhealthy Alcohol Use

AHRQ's EvidenceNOW: Managing Unhealthy Alcohol Use Initiative launched in October 2019 to provide external support to primary care practices to help them implement evidence shown to improve management of unhealthy alcohol use.  AHRQ awarded 3-year grants to six institutions across the country. The grantees are disseminating and implementing into primary care practices evidence-based approaches to improve the use of screening for unhealthy alcohol use, brief intervention for those at risk, and medication therapy for alcohol use disorder. 

Together, the grantees are expected to work with primary care practices across the country to implement evidence-based approaches shown to improve management of unhealthy alcohol use. Each of the grantees will evaluate their respective dissemination and implementation efforts, and an external evaluator will conduct a cross-grantee evaluation.  Grantees receive support from AHRQ through a resource center and participation in a learning community.

To date, this new initiative has produced an: 

  • Environmental Scan | Final Report – Published in July 2023, this report is the culmination of an e-scan on Managing Unhealthy Alcohol Use in Primary Care. The scan was conducted annually, from August 2019 to August 2023, to capture promising practices, strategies, and materials for the identification and management of unhealthy alcohol use in primary care settings. This report outlines the methodology, as well as the key findings, and provides a compendium of the tools and resources found in these e-scans.
  • Environmental Scan of Unhealthy Alcohol Tools and Resources: A collection of tools and resources for managing unhealthy alcohol use in primary care intended for use by providers, organizational leadership, other team members, and patients. The tools and resources in the collection were initially identified via subject matter experts and methodical searches of the published and grey literature, as well as targeted searches for specific kinds of tools.
  • Webinar on Primary Care Research Challenges During COVID-19: This webinar focuses on lessons learned about conducting primary care research during the COVID-19 epidemic. It addresses common challenges and potential solutions with practice recruitment, logistical problems such as data collection and human subjects concerns, and strategies to initiate and maintain engagement with practices. These insights are gleaned from grantees of the Managing Unhealthy Alcohol Use Initiative.
  • Blog on Implementing Screening and Treatment of Unhealthy Alcohol Use During COVID-19: This blog addresses increased alcohol use during the COVID-19 epidemic and how AHRQ is responding to the rise in unhealthy alcohol use with its Managing Unhealthy Alcohol Use Initiative. This initiative helps practices implement the latest evidence from AHRQ’s Effective Health Care Program, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, and an environmental scan (see above).
  • Overview of Medications Used in the Treatment of Alcohol Use Disorder and Frequently Asked Questions: Evidence shows Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved medications are an effective treatment for people with alcohol use disorder (AUD), yet medications are prescribed to less than 4 percent of them. Primary care settings are frequently entry points for those seeking help with AUD, and equipping clinicians with information can help effectively manage AUD and improve patient health. This document provides information and answers common questions primary care clinicians ask about medications prescribed for AUD.

This initiative is funded by AHRQ’s innovative Dissemination and Implementation (D&I) Initiative. The goal of the D&I Initiative is to identify patient-centered outcomes research (PCOR) findings that are not well delivered in practice, but which could significantly improve patient outcomes through broader uptake by practices. The Managing Unhealthy Alcohol Use Initiative will disseminate and implement PCOR evidence on managing unhealthy alcohol use from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and the Effective Health Care Program, and its environmental scan of the research literature.

Access the Department of Health and Human Services press release, which includes a video on combatting alcohol use disorder.