Online Program

Addressing the Binge Drinking Culture in Four Rural Communities

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Leslie Patterson, PhD, Family and Community Medicine, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI
Melissa Holmquist, MS, Center for Healthy Communities & Research, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI
Dave Johnson, Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative, Sauk City, WI
Jeffrey Morzinski, PhD, MSW, Department of Family and Community Medicine, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI

Alcohol-related deaths are a leading cause of death in Wisconsin and the state tops the nation in harm and death associated with its drinking culture. Wisconsin adults report the highest rates of binge drinking in the country.  Rural communities may experience greater consequences with drinking problems because of limited access to substance abuse treatment. In response, we partnered community medicine personnel, a rural health cooperative and four rural hospitals to develop an intervention to increase screening for binge drinking behavior.


The community-academic partnership is in the process of implementing the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) at four hospitals to increase screening for patients that demonstrate binge drinking behaviors. Each hospital trained an on-site health educator that will screen patients and provide a brief follow-up intervention for patients that screen positively for binge drinking.

lessons learned

Implementing the AUDIT at four geographically dispersed rural locations can be challenging. We’ve recognized that the importance of having fully committed partners is critical to be able to make progress on the project quickly. Also, the rural health cooperative network structure has been instrumental in facilitating linkages among the four hospitals to ensure smooth implementation of the AUDIT into the hospital workflow. 


It is important to have hospital leadership support and engagement at every level of the process. It is equally important to have project staff that believe “in the cause” to ensure steady commitment to the project’s objectives. Lastly, we recommend that geographically dispersed partnerships create opportunities for face-to-face meetings and virtual meetings to create group cohesion.

Learning Areas:

Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Administration, management, leadership
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related nursing

Learning Objectives:
Discuss the need for binge drinking interventions in rural communities. List the key features of a community-based intervention to reduce binge drinking in rural communities. Describe how the project improved linkages among rural healthcare providers. Explain lessons learned for implementing a binge drinking intervention in critical access hospitals and clinics.

Keyword(s): Alcohol Use, Drug Abuse Treatment

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been the principal investigator on state funded grants focusing on addressing health disparities in rural communities. The current project represented in the proposal focus on the development, implementation and evaluation of a binge drinking intervention to reduce the harmful and dangerous drinking habits demonstrated by many rural residents.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.