Interprofessional education as a potential foundation for future team-based prevention of alcohol use disorder

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BMC Medical Education


Background: Effective screening of alcohol use and prevention of alcohol use disorder (AUD) requires the continuous preparation of educated and confident providers across all health professions who will ideally work in close collaboration in their future practices. As one mechanism for achieving this goal, the development and provision of interprofessional education (IPE) training modules for health care students may cultivate beneficial interactions among future health providers early in their formative education. Methods: In the present study, we assessed attitudes about alcohol and confidence in screening and AUD prevention in 459 students at our health sciences center. Students represented ten different health professions (audiology, cardiovascular sonography, dental hygiene, dentistry, medicine, nursing, physical therapy, public health, respiratory therapy, and speech language pathology programs). For purposes of this exercise, students were divided into small, professionally diverse teams. Responses to ten survey questions (Likert scale) were collected via a web-based platform. These assessments were collected before and after a case-based exercise that provided information to students on the risks of excessive alcohol use as well as the effective screening and team-based management of individuals susceptible to AUD. Results: Wilcoxon signed-rank analyses revealed that the exercise led to significant decreases in stigma toward individuals engaging in at-risk alcohol use. We also discovered significant increases in self-reported knowledge and confidence in personal qualifications needed to initiate brief interventions to reduce alcohol use. Focused analyses of students from individual health programs uncovered unique improvements according to question theme and health profession. Conclusion: Our findings demonstrate the utility and effectiveness of single, focused IPE-based exercises to impact personal attitudes and confidence in young health professions learners. While additional longitudinal cohort follow-up studies are needed, these results may translate into more effective and collaborative AUD treatment in future clinical settings.

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