Article

The Frequency and Content of Discussions About Alcohol Use in Primary Care and Application of the Chief Medical Officer's Low-Risk Drinking Guidelines: A Cross-Sectional Survey of General Practitioners and Practice Nurses in the UK

Citation

Birch JM, Critchlow N, Calman L, Petty R, Rosenberg G, Rumgay H & Vohra J (2021) The Frequency and Content of Discussions About Alcohol Use in Primary Care and Application of the Chief Medical Officer's Low-Risk Drinking Guidelines: A Cross-Sectional Survey of General Practitioners and Practice Nurses in the UK. Alcohol and Alcoholism, 56 (4), pp. 433-442. https://doi.org/10.1093/alcalc/agaa120

Abstract
Aims: To examine how often general practitioners (GPs) and practice nurses (PNs) working in primary care discuss alcohol with patients, what factors prompt discussions, how they approach patient discussions and whether the Chief Medical Officers’ (CMO) revised low-risk drinking guidelines are appropriately advised. Methods: Cross-sectional survey with GPs and PNs working in primary care in the UK, conducted January–March 2017 (n = 2020). A vignette exercise examined what factors would prompt a discussion about alcohol, whether they would discuss before or after a patient reported exceeded the revised CMO guidelines (14 units per week) and whether the CMO drinking guidelines were appropriately advised. For all patients, participants were asked how often they discussed alcohol and how they approached the discussion (e.g. used screening tool). Results: The most common prompts to discuss alcohol in the vignette exercise were physical cues (44.7% of participants) or alcohol-related symptoms (23.8%). Most practitioners (70.1%) said they would wait until a patient was exceeding CMO guidelines before instigating discussion. Two-fifths (38.1%) appropriately advised the CMO guidelines in the vignette exercise, with PNs less likely to do so than GPs (odds ratio [OR] = 0.77, P = 0.03). Less than half (44.7%) reportedly asked about alcohol always/often with all patients, with PNs more likely to ask always/often than GPs (OR = 2.22, P < 0.001). Almost three-quarters said they would enquire by asking about units (70.3%), compared to using screening tools. Conclusion: Further research is required to identify mechanisms to increase the frequency of discussions about alcohol and appropriate recommendation of the CMO drinking guidelines to patients.

Keywords
ethanol; parasympathetic nervous system; alcohol drinking; nurses; physicians; family; primary health care; guidelines; peripheral nervous system; peripheral nerve stimulation; chronic multifocal osteomyelitis

Journal
Alcohol and Alcoholism: Volume 56, Issue 4

StatusPublished
FundersCRUK Cancer Research UK
Publication date31/07/2021
Publication date online12/11/2020
Date accepted by journal12/10/2020
URLhttp://hdl.handle.net/1893/31942
PublisherOxford University Press (OUP)
ISSN0735-0414
eISSN1464-3502