Purpose: To review the published evidence of the impact of alcohol screening and brief intervention (SBI) delivered in emergency departments (EDs) on healthcare utilization and costs.
Principal results: This scoping review used existing literature reviews supplemented with an electronic database. We included studies if they assessed SBIs for alcohol delivered in an ED setting and reported healthcare utilization and/or costs. We abstracted methodological approaches and healthcare utilization outcomes from each study and categorized them based on substance of focus (alcohol only vs. alcohol and other substances). We updated cost estimates from each study to 2018 U.S. dollars. We identified seven studies published between 2010 and 2019 that met study inclusion criteria. Two of the seven studies evaluated SBI that targeted both alcohol and other substances. Six studies found a reduction in healthcare utilization or costs, and one found an increase in healthcare utilization.
Major conclusions: This literature review suggests that SBI delivered in ED settings can be a cost-reducing approach to treating excessive alcohol consumption, a factor that policy-makers and payers might consider in prioritizing interventions.