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  • Publication # 13-RA004

The March 2014 issue of Research Activities was the last issue of the monthly newsletter. AHRQ is transitioning to a new quarterly thematic publication that will provide longer, more in-depth analyses of individual topics related to AHRQ’s four priority areas. This new publication will be available online  in the Fall.

Research Activities readers will still be able to access published studies by AHRQ and AHRQ-supported researchers on the AHRQ Research Studies Web page, which will be online later this Spring. Studies can be accessed by first author, publication date, and key word.

Thanks to all our readers over the years who have told us how much they have enjoyed the newsletter. We hope our new quarterly publication will be equally useful in learning more about AHRQ and the field of health services research!

For questions, please contact Research Activities managing editor, Gail Makulowich, at or at 301-427-1711.

Alcohol screening questionnaire can help identify high-risk drinkers with increased postoperative health care use

Acute Care/Hospitalization

Alcohol misuse is a potentially modifiable risk factor for postoperative complications. The commonly used three-item AUDIT-C alcohol screening questionnaire could be used to identify patients at increased risk for costly postoperative inpatient health care use, concludes a new study. Providing these patients with preoperative alcohol interventions might provide a cost-effective approach to decrease postoperative resource use as well as improve patient outcomes, suggest the researchers.

The study included male Veterans Affairs patients who completed the AUDIT-C on mailed surveys from October 2003 through September 2006, who were hospitalized for nonemergency, noncardiac major operations in the following year. The researchers evaluated postoperative inpatient health care use across four AUDIT-C risk groups (scores 0, 1 to 4, 5 to 8, and 9 to 12), adjusting for smoking status, sociodemographics, and other factors.

Patients with high-risk drinking (AUDIT-C scores 9 to 12) spent nearly a day longer in the hospital and had longer intensive care unit stays after surgery compared with low-risk drinkers (AUDIT-C scores 1 to 4), and were twice as likely to return to the operating room. High-risk drinking was not associated with hospital readmission. Lower level at-risk drinking (AUDIT-C scores 5 to 8) was not associated with any measure of postoperative health care use. Nondrinkers (AUDIT-C score 0) had increased health care use on all measures compared with low-risk drinkers, but the differences were relatively small. This study was supported in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (T32 HS13853).

See "AUDIT-C alcohol screening results and postoperative inpatient health care use" by Anna D. Rubinsky, MS, Haili Sun, PhD, David K. Blough, PhD, and others in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons 214, pp. 296-395, 2012.


Page last reviewed January 2013
Internet Citation: Alcohol screening questionnaire can help identify high-risk drinkers with increased postoperative health care use: Acute Care/Hospitalization. January 2013. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.


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