Customizing a clinical app to reduce hazardous drinking among veterans in primary care.

Within the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), 15—30% of patients seen in primary care are identified as hazardous drinkers, yet the vast majority of these patients receive no intervention. Time constraints on providers and patient-level barriers to in-person treatment contribute to this problem. The scientific literature provides a compelling case that mobile-based interventions can reduce hazardous drinking and underscores the role of peer support in behavioral change. Here, we describe the benefits of using a clinical app—Step Away—to treat hazardous drinking among VHA primary care patients as well as an approach to customizing the app to maximize its engagement and effectiveness with this population. We highlight the value of integrating use of Step Away with telephone support from a trained VHA peer support specialist. This type of integrated approach may provide the key therapeutic components necessary to generate an effective and easily implemented alcohol use intervention that can be made available to VHA primary care patients who screen positive for hazardous drinking but are unwilling or unable to attend in-person treatment. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)