Williams E.C., Lapham G., Achtmeyer C.E. et al. ‘Use of an electronic clinical reminder for brief alcohol counseling is associated with resolution of unhealthy alcohol use at follow-up screening’. Journal of General Internal Medicine: 2010, 25(suppl. 1), p. 11–17.
When a patient has screened positive for risky drinking, up pops a computerised prompt to remind the clinician to consider counselling. In one service for US ex-military personnel, this resulted in nearly three quarters of patients being counselled and a hint of consequentially reduced drinking; at another, findings were negative. Why the difference?