GPs can reduce harm in alcohol abuse patients

GP intervention can reduce harm in alcohol abuse patients more effectively than previously thought, according to research.

Alcohol Identification and Brief Advice (IBA) is commonly used as a diagnostic tool among healthcare professionals. But research suggests it is an effective intervention in its own right, reducing consumption to lower risk levels for one in eight higher risk drinkers.

The study, commissioned as part of the DoH's Alcohol Effects campaign, says some GPs may be underestimating its potential impact.

Dr Mike Knapton, a Cambridge GP and associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, said: ‘Over nine million people in England drink more than is good for them, but many don't even realise that the way they drink could put their health at risk.'

He added: ‘As we have seen with smoking, brief interventions, as part of a wider strategy, can have a significant impact on helping to raise awareness of the health risks associated with alcohol and in bringing about a change in behaviour.'

GPs' knowledge of the dangers that can be caused by regularly drinking too much alcohol is vital to this process, he added.

Reinforcing the positive effects GPs can have on a patient's health by talking to them about their drinking habits is also crucial, said Dr Knapton.

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