Detecting risky drinkers in general practice – why aren’t we there yet?

This oral presentation was delivered in the School of Public Health and Community Medicine, UNSW Australia, Lunchtime Seminar series.

GP Unit authors: Michael Tam


General practitioners (GPs) are the front line in reducing the health burden of alcohol related harms. Australian and international guidelines recommend a preventive approach – early detection of risky drinkers and the provision of brief interventions – and GPs are ideally placed having access to the at-risk population.

Historically, few risky drinkers were identified in general practice. Recognition of this phenomenon led to the development of well-validated alcohol screening questionnaires, and policy promoting their use in routine care. The evidence supporting the use of some of these tools is substantial, and yet, the goal of early detection appears to be at an impasse. Few modern-day GPs use these screening questionnaires, and even when they do, it might not be for the purpose of routine screening.

What’s going on, and how do we move forward?

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