VCU Grant: Helping Doctors Tackle Dangerous Drinking

Oct 25, 2019

Unhealthy alcohol use is the third most common preventable death in America. And yet studies show that just a 90-second conversation with a doctor could make a difference. 

Now VCU has gotten a grant to study how family doctors can do a better job addressing dangerous drinking. 


One in five Americans drink more alcohol than they should, yet studies show family doctors may not be bringing the issue up as much as they should. 

Credit Edson Hong/Flickr CC

Alex Krist is a family doctor in Fairfax and a researcher at VCU. 

“We see that only about 13-percent of patients say that their doctor even talk with them about drinking and only 7-percent of patients with alcohol use disorder say that they received any counseling or any treatment,” said Krist.

VCU has been given a $2.17 million grant from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality to address that problem. 

They’ll help family doctors work out a better and more frequent routine for how to question and counsel all their patients on alcohol use. The hope is to change behavior before someone becomes dependent. 

“A lot of times clinicians and practices are so busy taking care of people it’s difficult to kind of stop and think through things,” Krist said. “So one of the things that we are doing is creating a space to think about this. The other thing we’re going to be doing though is creating networks. So we’re hoping that all the practices are going to learn from each other. 

The 3-year study will work with 125 primary care practices throughout the state, potentially reaching a million Virginians.


This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.