Conference Report Urges Substance Screening and Intervention by Trauma Clinicians

Conference to address alcohol problems among hospitalized trauma patients

On May 28–30, 2003, staff at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and five other groups sponsored a conference to draft recommendations to encourage trauma center staff to screen patients for alcohol and other drug problems and to counsel those who screen positive and refer them for treatment.

Key Recommendations

  • Make screening, brief intervention and referral to treatment, when necessary, for substance use problems a component of trauma care.
  • Change state insurance regulations that allow medical insurers to exclude coverage for injuries related to substance use problems.
  • Insurers should reimburse trauma center staff for screening patients, and providing a brief intervention and referral for treatment, when necessary.
  • Fund research, with involvement from trauma center staff, to find effective ways to implement programs of screening, a brief counseling intervention, and referral.


The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) provided a grant of $25,000 to help pay the costs of publishing the conference proceedings in a special supplement to the Journal of Trauma: Injury, Infection and Critical Care. In addition to the CDC, five other groups provided financial support for the conference. (See the Appendix.)

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