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Iowa Faculty Leads New USPSTF Recommendation on Screening for Unhealthy Alcohol Use

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends that primary care clinicians screen all adults 18 years old or above, including pregnant women, for unhealthy alcohol use.

The USPSTF is chaired by Dr. Sue Curry, distinguished professor in the department of health management and policy, and former dean of the University of Iowa College of Public Health. Dr. Curry is also corresponding author of the recommendation.

Unhealthy alcohol use is increasing among adults and is the third leading preventable cause of death in United States. About 88,000 people die each year from alcohol-related causes — deaths that could have been prevented.

Drinking and driving is always unsafe, but it is particularly dangerous among adolescents; one in five teen drivers involved in fatal car accidents had alcohol in their system.

“There isn’t enough evidence to know if screening and providing counseling to adolescents in primary care settings helps address alcohol use,” adds Dr. Curry. “We continue to call for more research and encourage primary care clinicians to use their judgment when deciding whether to screen adolescents.”

This recommendation statement has been published online in the Journal of the American Medical Association, as well as on the Task Force web site.

[Photo: Dr. Sue Curry]