Home > Alcohol treatment services in Ireland: how the public view them.

Millar, Sean (2017) Alcohol treatment services in Ireland: how the public view them. Drugnet Ireland , Issue 62, Summer 2017 , p. 35.

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The Health Service Executive (HSE) has recently published findings from a study which examined the level of public support in Ireland for alcohol screening in healthcare settings, and to assess if alcohol treatment services are deemed available and adequate.1 The study was based on two cross-sectional national drinking surveys conducted in 2006 and 2010. For the purpose of this research, the two survey data sets were combined (n=2011) to allow for detailed analysis.

 

A similar methodology was used across the two surveys, that of a national quota sample of adults aged 18 years and over, using face-to-face interviews. The response rate was 62%. Several main findings from the study are discussed below.

 

Alcohol screening in healthcare settings

A majority of survey respondents agreed that intervention by health professionals regarding patients’ drinking habits in different healthcare settings should take place. The highest level of support for asking patients about their drinking behaviours as standard practice was in maternity services (91%), followed by general hospitals (84%), and in primary care (80%).

 

Demographics

A higher percentage of married people (82%) in comparison to single people (77%) agreed that general practitioners (GPs) should ask all patients about their drinking habits as standard practice. Across regions of Ireland, those living in Dublin were less supportive of GP intervention in comparison to the rest of Leinster (79% vs 87%). More women than men (86% vs 82%) were supportive of alcohol screening; respondents who were younger were less supportive. Support was higher among those from lower socioeconomic classes (87%) in comparison with other classes.

 

Drinking pattern and alcohol harms

Participants who abstained from alcohol were more supportive of health professionals asking patients about their drinking behaviours as standard practice. Respondents who were heavy drinkers were less supportive of alcohol screening in primary care, general hospitals, and maternity services. Those who reported one or more of seven negative consequences due to their own drinking were also less supportive of alcohol screening by health professionals in general hospitals and in maternity services. Nevertheless, even among heavy drinkers, the majority (70%‒86%) were in favour of health practitioners asking about drinking habits.

 

Availability and adequacy of alcohol treatment services

Just 4 in 10 respondents agreed that alcohol treatment services were available in their local health service area, while a similar number (43%) were unaware (don’t know) if alcohol treatment services were available (Figure 1). In addition, only 1 in 5 agreed that alcohol treatment services were adequate, 1 in 4 believed treatment services were not adequate, and over one-half were unsure. Subjects who lived in Dublin were significantly (p<0.01) less aware of the availability of alcohol treatment services in their local health service area when compared to others regions, with two-thirds saying they did not know if treatment services were available.

 

Conclusions

The results from these surveys suggest that most Irish adults are supportive of alcohol screening in a healthcare setting. However, the findings also indicate that a high percentage of survey respondents were unaware of availability of alcohol treatment services in local health areas. The authors suggest that these findings will be relevant in the planning of future services in relation to alcohol. Effective delivery of alcohol screening, and early intervention, may help reduce the burden and associated cost of alcohol-related problems in Ireland.

 

1    Hope A and Barry J (2016) Alcohol treatment services in Ireland: how the public view them. Dublin: Health Service Executive. https://www.drugsandalcohol.ie/26577

Item Type:Article
Issue Title:Issue 62, Summer 2017
Date:August 2017
Page Range:p. 35
Publisher:Health Research Board
Volume:Issue 62, Summer 2017
EndNote:View
Subjects:B Substances > Alcohol
F Concepts in psychology > Attitude and behaviour > Attitude toward substance use
J Health care, prevention and rehabilitation > Treatment and maintenance > Treatment factors
MA-ML Social science, culture and community > Sociocultural aspects of substance use > Societal attitude toward substance use
VA Geographic area > Europe > Ireland

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