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GPs can help problem drinkers.


Deborah Condon

Type: News
Region: Republic of Ireland
Northern Ireland

Excessive alcohol consumption continues to be a problem in Ireland, however a lack of adequate addiction services means that GPs are often a problem drinker's only source of assistance, researchers have said. According to their findings, even though consultation times with GPs tend to be limited, these doctors can still offer meaningful interventions and guidance to affected patients. GP trainees, Dr Orla McGowan and Dr Claire Shields, along with consultant psychiatrist at St Patrick's Hospital, Dr Declan Lyons, looked at the issue of ââ,¬Ëobrief interventions', which are seen as a way of reducing hazardous drinking in general practice. Patients are first screened for unhealthy alcohol use using, for example, a standardised questionnaire. If problem alcohol use is detected, a brief intervention should follow within the same consultation. The researchers noted that time is a big issue for GPs, particularly in a busy general practice. However, according to World Health Organisation guidelines, the test should only take a few minutes and the brief intervention ââ,¬Ëoshould then take up to 15 minutes to provide the feedback and information and to develop a plan'. "While this is longer than an average consultation, the evidence strongly supports its effectiveness, and the long-term benefits of reducing hazardous drinking should reduce the burden on the health service, including primary (GP) care," they pointed out. They noted that this issue is something GPs are having to deal with more and more, particularly ââ,¬Ëoin these times of economic strain'.



Rights: Public
Suggested citation:

Deborah Condon. (2014) GPs can help problem drinkers. [Online]. Available from: [Accessed: 15th November 2019].


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