Home > An online survey of Irish general practitioner experience of and attitude toward managing problem alcohol use.

Collins, Claire and Finegan, Pearse and O'Riordan, Margaret (2018) An online survey of Irish general practitioner experience of and attitude toward managing problem alcohol use. BMC Family Practice, 19, (1), p. 200. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12875-018-0889-0.

External website: https://bmcfampract.biomedcentral.com/articles/10....

BACKGROUND: In the general practice setting screening, brief intervention and counselling have been shown to be effective in the reduction of problem alcohol use. This study aimed to explore Irish general practitioners' (GPs) current practice of and attitudes towards the management of problem alcohol use.

METHODS: An online survey was emailed, with one email reminder, to 1750 general/family practitioners who were members of the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP) and for whom an active email address was available. Overall, 476 completed questionnaires were received representing a 27.2% response rate.

RESULTS: Two-thirds of the respondents reported that they have managed patients for problem alcohol use and related issues in the past year. The majority, 96%, of respondents indicated that they initiate conversations around alcohol even when the patient does not do so. Almost two thirds of GPs stated that they use structured brief intervention when talking to patients about their alcohol intake and circa 85% reported that they provide some form of counselling in relation to reducing alcohol consumption. While more than two out of three GPs felt prepared when counselling patients in relation to alcohol consumption, almost half considered they are ineffective in helping patients to reduce alcohol consumption. One third of GPs advised that they did not have access to an addiction counsellor.

CONCLUSIONS: GPs in this survey reported widespread experience of screening and intervention, however, many still felt ineffective. In order to maximise the potential impact of GPs, a clearer understanding is required of what interventions are effective in different scenarios. Furthermore, GPs are only part of the solution in terms of addressing alcohol consumption. The services available in the broader health care system and Government alcohol related policy needs to further support GPs and patients.

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