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Alcohol Use: Time To Ask


Providing health care professionals with knowledge, skills and attitudes to engage in meaningful conversations about alcohol use and supporting the primary care team in establishing best practices will help to advance compassionate and outcome-based patient care.

Thank you for your interest in the Time to Ask Unhealthy Alcohol Use Education Program. Unhealthy alcohol use is often under identified, and therefore, undertreated. It has become a major public health issue in Maine and nationally. The Time to Ask program is being tested at three primary care sites, beginning with the Bucksport Regional Health Center in Bucksport, Maine. In an effort to enhance providers' comfort and skills in talking with their patients about unhealthy levels of drinking, Lunder-Dineen, in collaboration with a statewide Pilot Advisory Team, is providing staff at our pilot sites the opportunity to participate in an education program.

Why is this program important?

Most health care professionals receive very little education in alcohol use, even though many hospital visits in Maine and primary care visits are alcohol related. In areas of rural Maine, unhealthy alcohol use and its related problems are acute. Brief intervention sessions have been shown to be effective in reducing weekly alcohol consumption, reducing binge drinking, and increasing adherence to recommended drinking limits. Read more from our Time to Ask Executive Summary here. 

Primary Care Practices are uniquely situated to identify patients who are at risk for unhealthy drinking. By empowering clinicians with the necessary skills, they can confidently engage and address unhealthy alcohol use with their patients and intervene early on before patients are at greater risk of developing a costlier, chronic illness such as a substance use disorder

How does this benefit your organization?

To address this critical issue, Lunder-Dineen has convened a team of Maine-based experts to develop and implement a unique initiative to raise awareness, provide interprofessional education and skills, and address the gap in alcohol assessment and treatment. Our focus is to become leaders in innovative approaches and cultural shifts in interprofessional alcohol education and care practices. In addition to provider education, the practice site Time to Ask Champions and the Time to Ask Pilot Advisory Team are developing workflows and processes for integrating best practices for alcohol screening and connecting with community resources for expert consultation.

In this program, providers will learn:

  • The art and science of communication techniques with patients across the age continuum 
  • Why this work is important to implement in primary care 
  • What the return benefits to the practice and to patients and families can be
  • What opportunities for advancing quality patient care are missed when meaningful conversations about alcohol use are not incorporated into practice
  • Medication-assisted treatment options
  • About references with supplemental learning content

How does it work?

Designed for primary care physicians, all professionals on their teams, and other non-addiction health care professionals, Time to Ask helps these clinicians properly identify, assess, and recommend treatment for patients who may be affected by unhealthy alcohol use. It is our vision that this development process can be piloted to raise awareness, change attitudes, and address the gap between education and treatment of substance use disorders.

  • Participants must be members of the interprofessional team at the Bucksport Regional Health Center in Bucksport, Maine. The program will expand to two additional primary care sites in 2018 – Four Seasons Family Practice in Fairfield, and Pines Health Services in Caribou.  
  • Participants will register and fill out a pre-program survey prior to completing the online modules. At the direction of the practice manager, staff will receive guidance on which of the three modules must be completed as dictated by their role within the practice. Modules will be released one at a time (monthly) beginning November 2017. Each module will include an evaluation survey for learners to complete. Our research partners from the University of Southern Maine will also conduct a post-pilot evaluation, including surveys with the learners, to enable us to assess each facet of this test-pilot before scaling-up. 

Online modules

Participants will have the opportunity to complete three online modules.

Module 1: Alcohol Use in Everyday Life

Module 2: The Art and Science of the Conversation

Module 3: Addressing Unhealthy Alcohol Use and Alcohol Use Disorder in Primary Care