Date of Publication


Project Team

Mary Val Palumbo DNP, APRN and Katina Cummings AHEC


Purpose. Excessive alcohol consumption is a preventable risk factor for hypertension, heart disease, and stroke. Though alcohol-related deaths number 88,000 annually in the U.S., alcohol use has the lowest treatment rate of behavioral health disorders at 10%. Excessive alcohol consumption may compromise treatment of hypertension by primary care providers (PCP). This project aims to increase awareness of the hypertension and excessive alcohol use connection and promote screening of alcohol consumption.

Methods A protocol for improving alcohol screening and concurrent hypertension management was developed including: in-person educational presentations; patient education materials; and the use of motivational interviewing. Practice change was assessed via surveys, using descriptive statistics analyzed for themes.

Results. Nineteen post-presentation surveys and seven follow-up surveys were returned (response rate of 95% and 35%). Seventy-nine percent of respondents (n=15) indicated they were likely to implement a practice change. Eighteen percent of respondents (n=4) liked the focus on the hypertension-alcohol link to objectively discuss health risks. Two providers appreciated the protocol not relying on medication. Three providers used the tracking log; blood pressure was reduced in at least two patients. Three of seven providers reported increased screening for alcohol use, one already screened all patients, two did not screen any.

Conclusions. A majority of providers were hesitant to broach alcohol use and patients were not regularly screened for alcohol consumption. Evidence based tools were well received by participating PCPs. Without universal alcohol screening in primary care, the treatment gap will persist, and treatment of concurrent hypertension may continue to be compromised.

Document Type