HSC Receives $400,000 RWJ Grant to Test How Trauma Centers Can Adopt Alcohol Interventions and Screenings

Even when research shows a medical procedure can be helpful in preventing recurring injuries, those research findings may still not be adopted by hospitals if busy medical personnel can't make changes in a cost-effective manner.

A recent $400,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson foundation to the UNM Health Sciences Center is aimed at testing how effectively non-research trauma centers not involved in alcohol treatment research can adopt research findings that show alcohol screening and brief motivational interviewing can help reduce future injuries.

Nearly one-half of occupied trauma beds are due to alcohol involvement at the time of injury, said Carol R. Schermer, M.D., assistant professor of Surgery and principal investigator for the grant. Injured patients with alcohol-use disorders suffer recurrent injury episodes and are at increased risk of dying relative to the general population.

"Brief interventions for alcohol problems have been shown to be effective in decreasing alcohol consumption and subsequent injury events. Yet even if we are successful in conducting our research projects that doesn't necessarily mean other institutions will consider it practical to implement such programs," she said.

The Robert Wood Johnson study will assess barriers to incorporating alcohol screening and brief interventions as routine trauma center procedures. The study will look at practical problems medical personnel face such as time constraints and the limited resources as researchers seek to develop and implement brief intervention programs in three trauma centers: University of California in San Diego, the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver and Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta.

The researchers hope to demonstrate that current employees trauma centers trained in brief intervention techniques can make significant, cost-effective contributions toward reducing the number of future alcohol-induced injuries, said Schermer. Results will be presented to the American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma.

Contact: Cindy Foster, 272-3322

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