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Assessing Acute and Critically Ill Patients for Problem Drinking

Sommers, Marilyn Sawyer PhD, RN, FAAN; Wray, Janet PhD, RN; Savage, Christine PhD, RN; Dyehouse, Janice M. PhD, RN

Dimensions of Critical Care Nursing: March-April 2003 - Volume 22 - Issue 2 - p 76-88

More critically ill patients have acute drinking problems than chronic problems with alcohol dependence. A hospitalization offers an opportunity for nurses to perform a brief assessment and initiate a simple intervention to advise patients to reduce their drinking. A few minutes of advice may make a long-term difference in a patient’s health.


Marilyn S. Sommers, PhD, RN, FAAN, has worked in critical care and trauma for more than 20 years. She is a federally funded principal investigator for several studies in the area of violence, injury, and alcohol-related trauma. She also served as a permanent member of the research grant review panel for the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Janet Wray, PhD, RN, is a psychiatric specialist who has worked in the field of substance abuse both as a clinician and teacher. Her particular expertise is in the area of women, alcohol, and substance misuse. She has been active in a variety of projects to help special populations reduce consumption of alcohol and other drugs of abuse.

Christine Savage, PhD, RN, is a community health specialist who has studied the effects of preconceptual drinking on the health of newborns. She is an expert in quantifying alcohol consumption and screening for misuse of alcohol and other substances.

Janice Dyehouse, PhD, RN, has worked in the field of psychiatric nursing for 30 years and is an internationally know expert in the area of brief intervention for alcohol-related problems. She has received both programmatic and research funding to support projects to reduce drinking in at-risk populations.

Address correspondence to: Marilyn S. Sommers, PhD, RN, FAAN, College of Nursing, ML 0038, University of Cincinnati; Cincinnati, OH 45221-0038 (e-mail:

© 2003 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.