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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.

Time to Ask impact evaluation report

We are proud to share that in the Spring of 2019, we completed Phase 1 of the Time to Ask interprofessional education and quality improvement program: Education that Transforms Conversations about Alcohol. Together with our evaluation partners at the University of Southern Maine, Muskie School of Public Services, we also completed the Time to Ask Phase 1 program evaluation. The findings reveal that the program had a positive impact on primary care health professionals’ knowledge and skill acquisition and attitudes while promoting practice change. We are pleased to share this report in an effort to address critical public health challenges in Maine. Please click here or on the image to view the report.

Thank you for your interest in the Time to Ask Unhealthy Alcohol Use Education Program. Unhealthy alcohol use is a major public health issue in Maine and nationally. It is often under identified, and therefore, undertreated. The Time to Ask program was implemented at two primary care sites: Bucksport Regional Health Center in Bucksport, Maine and Four Seasons Family Practice, in Fairfield, 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.

Beginning in fall 2019, the Time to Ask program will be implemented at 5 locations across the Katahdin Valley Health Center system, a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC). Learn more about our partner sites.

Why is this program important?

Alcohol screening is one of the most effective health care screening tools available yet it’s use is underutilized. 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. Following a screening, 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 and provide them with information and support to consider changes to improve their health. By empowering and equipping clinicians with the necessary knowledge and skills, they can confidently, compassionately and effectively 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 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. The Time to Ask program aims to increase the knowledge, skills, and confidence of the interprofessional team about alcohol use, screening, intervention and treatment by enabling staff members to take an active role in the delivery of care to patients consistent with recommended procedures and protocols. In addition to provider education, Lunder-Dineen provides onsite practice support, which includes working with their interprofessional team to examine and identify workflow and practice enhancements for integrating best practices for alcohol screening. Access to expert consultation is also provided

Our Phase One impact evaluation conducted by our evaluation partners at the University of Southern Maine Muskie School of Public Service revealed that the majority of learners gained knowledge and skills; the program fostered teamwork and collaboration and led to increased staff knowledge of best practices; led to a threefold increase in conviction and commitment to engaging with patients. and lastly, practices identified and implemented care enhancements. If you are interested in hearing more about the findings please contact Senior Program Manager, Denise O’Connell.

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 health professionals 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.

  • Lunder-Dineen meets with the partner sites’ leadership and establishes a timeline for implementing the program.
  • The partner site forms a Time to Ask committee who meets with us monthly for the purpose of identifying opportunities to apply what is being learned and any care enhancements.
  • Learners must be members of the interprofessional team at one of our partner sites.    Our target audience is as follows: Medical Assistants, Certified Nursing Assistants, Nurses, Pharmacists, Dental Teams, Social Workers, Physicians and administrators.
  • In addition to providing online and in person education, the program  includes support to enable teams to translate this knowledge and skills into easily actionable steps while supporting the interprofessional teams and influencing them  to work together and make screening for alcohol use, intervention, referral and treatment a priority. 
  • Learners must complete the assigned online modules AND if a prescriber, also attend the in-person teaching session or view a pre-recorded teaching session and submit a program evaluation in order to complete the program. 

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 (available for 1 Continuing Medical Education Credit)

Supplemental Module: Motivational Interviewing (available for 1 Continuing Medical Education Credit)