Skip directly to search Skip directly to A to Z list Skip directly to site content Skip directly to page options
CDC Home

CDC Injury Center: Director's View Blog

The purpose of this blog is to foster public discussion about injury and violence prevention and response and gain perspectives of those we serve.

An Opportunistic Intervention: Reduces Risky Behavior and Saves Lives

Categories: Injury Response

Whether at home, on the road, or in relationships, people who drink too much are at a higher risk of sustaining injury or causing injury to others.  Excessive drinking is the leading risk factor for injury in the United States and the third leading cause of preventable death. The CDC’s Injury Center supports alcohol Screening and Brief Intervention (SBI), a clinical preventive service now provided in many Level I trauma centers.  The American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma (COT) requires Level I trauma centers to have a mechanism to identify patients whose drinking is unhealthy and provide on-the-spot brief counseling. This requirement of screening and brief intervention is an evidence-based two-step process: conducting a screening and implementing brief intervention if the screening is positive for risky alcohol use.

Screening and Brief Intervention photo

Alcohol SBI is a pragmatic approach to reducing excessive drinking and risky behavior that yields significant results.  Trials that used brief counseling sessions for patients who drink too much have decreased the rate of readmission to a trauma center, ED or hospital by up to 50 percent.  Studies further demonstrated a significant decrease in the number of binge drinking episodes and drinks consumed per week by patients who received counseling.  While alcohol SBI may only begin the help needed for the 4% of the U.S. population that is addicted to alcohol, it’s clear that SBI makes a significant impact with those people who drink too much and are at risk from harm but are not alcohol dependent, an estimated 25 percent of the U.S. population.

Trauma centers are in an ideal position to seize the opportunity when a patient is seeking critical care and is more likely receptive to the SBI message.  Many worthy interventions fail because they cannot reach and capture the attention of their target audience.  Not so for alcohol SBI, which delivers a targeted message to every patient who screens positive.  Although we cannot ensure that every patient will be receptive to the potentially life-saving message being provided in the intervention, SBI has demonstrated remarkable success at very low costs.  One study from a CDC-funded injury research center indicated that for each dollar spent on alcohol screening and brief intervention, $3.81 was saved in overall healthcare costs.

To facilitate SBI’s expansion, the Injury Center has developed and posted a new on-line guide to assist trauma staff and health care professionals in developing, implementing and maintaining an alcohol SBI program.  The move by the COT to require Level I trauma centers to provide alcohol SBI is a powerful and positive step, yet trauma centers see only a fraction of the total patients treated by healthcare professionals every day.  We, therefore, believe that the expansion of alcohol SBI into other health care settings is a necessary next step in our continued efforts to reduce injuries and deaths caused by people who drink in excess.  Leadership at every level is required to tackle the enormous public health burden caused by the increase in risky or anti-social behavior by those who drink in excess.  The Injury Center applauds its partners, practitioners and people who rise each day to meet this challenge to improve our nation’s public health and safety.

Public Comments

Comments listed below are posted by individuals not associated with CDC, unless otherwise stated. These comments do not represent the official views of CDC, and CDC does not guarantee that any information posted by individuals on this blog is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. Read more about our comment policy ».

  1. September 3, 2010 at 5:16 pm ET  -   Elly Brauer

    For what it’s worth, the expansion of SBI into non-trauma admittance is a perfect example of going beyond positive thinking and being proactive in the real world…

    For those just tuning in to the discussion, SBI is a short alcohol screening and brief intervention which has shown success rates in the real world field use.

    So many people need help but don’t know where to begin, the SBI helps to identify, provide resources, and support those people at the crucial moment of opportunity when, in a hospital setting they are most receptive to getting this help.

    Aside from the tremendous fiscal gains we as a population stand to gain from reduced trauma care, no other single program stand to make such a profound impact on our society as ubiquitous use of the SBI to identify, support, and help solve the rampant alcoholism problem sweeping the country… Although the statistics say 4%, in my personal experience, the detrimental impact alcohol abuse has on our culture far exceeds 20% of society…

    I applaud the CDC and this profound advance in (hopefully) ER admittance nationwide.

    Link to this comment

  2. April 2, 2012 at 3:58 am ET  -   Brian

    You’ve got wonderful info here.

    Link to this comment

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


All comments posted become a part of the public domain, and users are responsible for their comments. This is a moderated blog and your comments will be reviewed before they are posted. Read more about our comment policy » The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention   1600 Clifton Road Atlanta, GA 30329-4027, USA
800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636) TTY: (888) 232-6348 - Contact CDC–INFO
A-Z Index
  1. A
  2. B
  3. C
  4. D
  5. E
  6. F
  7. G
  8. H
  9. I
  10. J
  11. K
  12. L
  13. M
  14. N
  15. O
  16. P
  17. Q
  18. R
  19. S
  20. T
  21. U
  22. V
  23. W
  24. X
  25. Y
  26. Z
  27. #