Busy Docs Now Have Tool to Screen Teens for Substance Abuse

Development of a screening instrument to assess adolescents at risk for substance abuse in primary care settings

From 1999 to 2001, researchers at the Center for Adolescent Substance Abuse Research at Children's Hospital Boston refined a brief questionnaire, called the CRAFFT, that primary care physicians can use to screen for alcohol or substance abuse problems in adolescent patients.

The Center for Adolescent Substance Abuse Research is a research organization working to discover new ways to reduce substance abuse and related disorders in children and adolescents.

Key Findings

As reported in Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine (June 2002):

  • The investigators found that scores on the CRAFFT screening tool were highly correlated with the other measures of substance abuse and dependence.
  • One-fourth of the participants answered "yes" to two or more of the CRAFFT screening questions, indicating a potential substance use problem.
  • The investigators concluded that the CRAFFT screening tool offers primary care providers a valid and practical means of quickly identifying adolescent patients who need more comprehensive assessment or referral to substance abuse treatment.