Measuring Use of Health Services for At-Risk Drinkers: How Brief Can You Get?

  • Brenda M. Booth
  • JoAnn E. Kirchner
  • Stacy M. Fortney
  • Xiaotong Han
  • Carol R. Thrush
  • Michael T. French
Brief Report


This study examines the validity, utility, and costs of using a brief telephone-administered instrument, the Brief Health Services Questionnaire (BHSQ), for self-reported health care provider contacts relative to collection and abstraction of complete medical records. The study sample was 441 community-dwelling at-risk drinkers who participated in an 18-month longitudinal study. Agreement between BHSQ self-reports and abstracted provider contacts was good to very good for general medical (79% agreement, kappa = .50) and specialty mental health contacts (93% agreement, kappa = .62), but low for “other” miscellaneous health contacts (61% agreement, kappa = .04). Average cost to collect and abstract complete medical records was $424 per study participant, whereas average cost to administer only the BHSQ was $31 per participant. Although it is not possible to conduct a formal cost-effectiveness analysis, results suggest the BHSQ is a viable option for collecting self-reported health provider contacts in a sample of at-risk drinkers, with definite cost advantages over more elaborate data collection methods.


Behavioral Health Behavioral Health Service General Medical Service Health Contact Provider Contact Information 
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Financial assistance for this study was provided by grants (R01 AA13167 and AA10372) from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), Public Health Service, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. We are extremely grateful to Lisa Geisselbrecht for her assistance with this paper and with data collection. The authors are entirely responsible for the research conducted in this paper and their positions or opinions do not necessarily represent those of NIAAA, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, the University of Miami, or the Department of Veterans Affairs.


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Copyright information

© National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brenda M. Booth
    • 1
    • 2
  • JoAnn E. Kirchner
  • Stacy M. Fortney
  • Xiaotong Han
  • Carol R. Thrush
  • Michael T. French
  1. 1.College of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesUniversity of Arkansas for Medical SciencesLittle RockUSA
  2. 2.Division of Health Services ResearchUniversity of Arkansas for Medical SciencesLittle RockUSA

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