Wise Drinking for Aging Patients: Online Spaced Education for Primary Care Practitioners

Period of Performance: 08/20/2017 - 02/28/2018


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Arlene Fink Associates
Principal Investigator


Summary This Phase 1 SBIR study aims to provide primary care practitioners (general internists, family physicians, geriatricians, physician assistants, nurses, nurse practitioners) with a prototype of Wise Drinking for Aging Patients, an online educational program that is designed to aid clinicians in improving the quality of care they provide to older drinkers. Most primary healthcare practitioners acknowledge that potentially risky alcohol use in older adults is a growing public health problem, but many do not have the knowledge or skills to identify or treat their older drinking patients who are hazardous (at risk for problems) or harmful drinkers (experiencing problems). Older adults can incur alcohol-related risks and problems even at relatively low consumption levels because of metabolic and central nervous system changes. Also, alcohol interacts adversely with many older adults' declining health, increasing medication use, and diminishing functional status. Wise Drinking for Aging Patients will be flexible so that consumers can match their learning style and learning platform (smartphones, tablets, or computers). The educational model will consist of an adaptation of Spaced Education (SE), an evidence-based approach to provider education that presents material entirely in a test-question format. With SE, new information appears when the correct answer is explained and elaborated upon. Typically, a course contains 20 to 40 questions, spread across one to two months. The spacing depends on the learner's answers: an incorrectly answered question might repeat one week later, and a correctly answered one after three weeks. After two consecutive correct answers, a question is retired. The questions in this project will be linked to topics and ?take-home? messages that together constitute knowledge and skills associated with high quality of care for older patients who drink. The messages will be derived from extensive literature and subject-matter expert reviews and the formal consensus of an RAND/UCLA ?Expert? Panel of generalist practitioners and will be tested for feasibility with potential users. The project is consistent with NIAAA's interests in 1) ?the development and evaluation of educational materials designed to intervene with the elderly around specific age-related risks for alcohol problems,? and 2) the development and evaluation of innovative materials for integration into existing programs (such as primary care). The product has commercial potential because with the aging of the population, primary care providers will inevitably care for an increasing number of older drinking patients, and this program will be directly targeted to their practice needs, and they are reimbursed for screening and counseling. The product is innovative in its incorporation of diverse user perspectives, its emphasis on improving quality of care for an underserved but growing population, and its foundation on evidence-based behavioral strategies.