Screening and Brief Intervention for Adolescent Substance Use in Medical Settings
Sharon Levy and Lydia A. Shrier
Affiliation: Boston Children’s Hospital, 300 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115 USA.
Background: Universal screening of adolescents for substance use and subsequent brief intervention has been
recommended as a component of routine medical care by several professional societies, although the evidence base for
such practice is less robust than that for adults.
Method: We review the literature and synthesize research findings on screening and brief intervention with adolescents.
Results: Several screening tools have been validated for use with this age group. While brief intervention with adolescents
has not been studied as extensively as with adults, research to date suggests that interventions are promising and may be
most effective if appropriately targeted based on screen results.
Conclusions: Outpatient mental health treatment is an opportunity to present highly relevant messages targeted at preventing
or reducing substance use to children and adolescents who are at high risk of developing substance use disorders, and
also to identify and intervene with patients who may already have a substance use disorder. Further evaluation to determine
the efficacy of these brief interventions in the outpatient mental health setting is needed.
Keywords: Adolescents, substance abuse screening, brief intervention, motivational interviewing, risk.
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