Federico Vaca in a lab coat.
“Our study demonstrated that AB-CASI could be quickly administered in a busy emergency department setting while effectively identifying patients with unhealthy drinking in need of tailored, bilingual, brief intervention,” says lead author Dr. Federico Vaca, UCI professor of emergency medicine. Karen Tapia / UCI

Irvine, Calif., June 7, 2023 –– An automated, bilingual, computerized alcohol screening and intervention health tool is effective in reducing alcohol use among Latino emergency department patients in the U.S., according to a study led by the University of California, Irvine.

“This is the first bilingual, large-scale, emergency department-based, randomized clinical trial of its kind in the country focused on English- and Spanish-speaking Latino participants,” said lead author Dr. Federico Vaca, UCI professor of emergency medicine. “Our aim was to overcome well-known barriers to alcohol screening and intervention from the emergency department while addressing the high disease burden and health disparities related to alcohol use disorders in this population.”

The clinical trial involved 840 self-identified Latino adults with unhealthy drinking. Recently published online in the journal JAMA Network Open, the findings revealed a substantial reduction in the number of binge drinking episodes within the last 28 days among those who had used the AB-CASI health tool compared to the standard care group. While both study groups experienced some decrease in alcohol use after one month, the AB-CASI group showed significant and sustained reductions at the 12-month mark.

“This tool offers considerable promise in addressing alcohol-related health disparities and should be considered for routine emergency department screening and intervention, as we know that incremental sustained reductions in alcohol use can benefit both individual and public health,” Vaca said.

The research team also included doctors and healthcare professionals from the Yale School of Medicine, the Yale School of Public Health and the University of Texas at El Paso.

This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism under grant number R01AA022083.

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About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities and is ranked among the nation’s top 10 public universities by U.S. News & World Report. The campus has produced five Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Howard Gillman, UCI has more than 36,000 students and offers 224 degree programs. It’s located in one of the world’s safest and most economically vibrant communities and is Orange County’s second-largest employer, contributing $7 billion annually to the local economy and $8 billion statewide. For more on UCI, visit www.uci.edu.

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