Improving alcohol management in primary health care in Mexico
Alcohol screening, brief advice and referral to treatment (SBIRT) in primary health care is an effective strategy to decrease alcohol consumption at population level. However, there is relatively scarce evidence regarding its economic returns in non-high-income countries. The current paper aims to evaluate an SBIRT program in Mexican primary health-care settings.
Empirical data was collected from 17 primary healthcare centres in Mexico City regarding alcohol screening delivered by 145 healthcare providers. This data was combined with data from a simulation study for a period of 10 years (2008 to 2017). Economic investments were calculated from a public sector healthcare perspective as clinical consultation costs and program costs. Economic return was calculated as gains in the public sector healthcare, estimated via simulated reductions in alcohol consumption, dependent on population coverage of alcohol interventions delivered to primary healthcare patients.
Results showed that scaling up an SBIRT program in Mexico over a 10-year period would lead to a positive return on investment. Moreover, over the 10-year period, up to 16,000 alcohol-related deaths could be avoided as a result of implementing the program.
Discussion and Conclusions
SBIRT implemented at the national level in Mexico may lead to substantial financial gains from a public sector healthcare perspective.