Prevention of FASDs
In 2013, the Arctic FASD RTC began a collaborative project with State of Alaska Public Health Nursing to implement and evaluate an evidence-based strategy for preventing alcohol-exposed pregnancies and other alcohol-related harms. This effort was supported by funding through CDC as part of its Alcohol Screening and Brief Intervention Initiative (aSBI), which aims to make aSBI a routine element of preventative health care in all primary settings.
FASDs are preventable if no alcohol is consumed during pregnancy. However, many pregnancies are unplanned, and many women may be drinking in the first trimester, unaware that they are pregnant. Research shows, however, that harm can be done to the developing embryo before the pregnancy is recognized. The best strategy is therefore to provide women and men in our communities with more information about alcohol use and its risks, information about different contraceptive methods if pregnancy is not desired, and how to reduce or stop drinking if pregnancy is desired.
Research shows that risky alcohol use is common in the United States. In Alaska, risky alcohol use is associated with a variety of health and social harms, and is correlated with nine of the top ten causes of death in the state. Such harms can include motor vehicle crashes (cars, boats, snow machines, ATVs), intimate partner violence, FASDs, hypertension, gastritis, liver diseases, and some cancers.
Over the past 30 years, aSBI has been shown to reduce risky drinking. It is a preventive service, similar in many respects to screening and evaluation done for hypertension, cholesterol, or other health indicators that are done as part of a wellness visit. aSBI involves using a validated set of screening questions to identify a person's drinking patterns (which can take only 2-3 minutes), and a short conversation with the person about those results. This conversation can reinforce healthy or risk-reducing behaviors, provide education about alcohol-related harms, guidelines for alcohol consumption for men and women, advice and support around changing drinking patterns, and referral for further assistance or treatment as appropriate. This conversation is designed to take place in only a few short minutes.
Implementation of aSBI in Public Health Clinics
The Arctic FASD RTC collaborated with Alaska Public Health Nursing to identify validated screening tools that would work best for their clinics and their clients, and on procedures for administration of the screening tools, and how to deliver an effective brief intervention. Trainings were conducted with clinics in three initial volunteer sites across the state; as of mid-2014, all the public health nursing clinics in the state had implemented and were conducting aSBI with their clients. Overall, client response has been positive.
The Arctic FASD RTC has also been conducting an evaluation of the implementation process with Alaska Public Health Nursing.
Interested in more information?
Please contact the Arctic FASD RTC at 907.786.6381 or by email, with the subject line 'aSBI'.