USPSTF finds insufficient evidence to recommend drug counseling by PCPs
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force said the evidence was insufficient to recommend counseling by primary care physicians to prevent drug use among patients aged younger than 25 years who have no history of using them.
Task force member Michael Silverstein, MD, MPH, told Healio Primary Care that illicit drug use “is a very serious problem” in the United States, with about half of teenagers in the U.S. using illicit drugs by the time they leave high school.
The task force identified research gaps in several areas, including the benefits of behavioral counseling interventions to prevent drug use in young people. They said the health, social and legal outcomes of certain interventions were “sparsely reported and few showed improvement,” and although some interventions reduced drug use, others showed no benefit.
Silverstein, who is a staff pediatrician and associate chief medical officer for research and population health at Boston Medical Center, offered suggestions on managing younger patients until the research gaps can be filled.
“Clinicians should continue to rely on their judgement to determine how best to address issues around illicit drug use in their young patients,” he said in the interview. “Parents or caregivers who are concerned that their child may be using drugs should talk to their child’s clinician or other health professionals to get help.”
The USPSTF’s draft statement and evidence review for preventing children, teenagers and young adults from using illicit drugs has been posted for public comment on the USPSTF website: www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org. Input will be accepted through Oct. 28, at www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/tfcomment.htm.
“The task force carefully reviews each and every comment it receives, and makes updates to final materials as needed, based on these comments,” Silverstein said. “We encourage primary care clinicians to share their thoughts with us to help us craft the clearest final recommendation possible.” – by Janel Miller
Disclosures: Silverstein reports no relevant financial disclosures.