GPs should advise drinkers to keep a daily record of their drinking

The new UK alcohol strategy includes a plan to ensure that General Practitioners (GPs) advise heavy drinkers to cut down. There is good evidence that this can reduce how much people drink. The big question is, what should GPs say to their patients?

A new study published online by the scientific journal Addiction analysed the advice given by GPs in all the major clinical trials evaluating this kind of advice, looking for common components linked to the largest reductions in drinking across the different studies.

Among the many different components of the advice, such as providing information on the harms of excessive drinking, trying to boost motivation and self-confidence, and advising on avoidance of for drinking, they found that the most effective piece of advice was to encourage the patient to monitor his or her , typically by keeping a daily record.

Lead author Susan Michie, Professor of at University College London, explains why self-monitoring is such helpful advice: "In , it's important to advise people how to reduce their drinking rather than just saying they ought to drink less. Getting patients to record how much alcohol they drink each day provides a concrete, easy task that raises their awareness of their behaviour and how well they are doing in staying within limits that they set themselves. This may seem like common sense but common sense needs to be supported by hard evidence for it to be acted upon in official policies."

More information: The Government's Alcohol Strategy, 23 March 2012, downloadable from http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/

Related Stories

Doctors' own alcohol consumption colors advice to patients

date Oct 31, 2011

Doctors who drink more themselves are more liberal in their advice to patients on alcohol consumption. They set higher thresholds for what is harmful, and while men who are heavy drinkers get to continue drinking, ...

A leap forward in addiction awareness and control

date Jul 29, 2010

A study by a team of researchers at Bangor University has designed and tested two programs that help problem drinkers curb their alcohol abuse. The study shows positive results after drinkers have followed either the Alcohol ...

Alcohol and your heart: Friend or foe?

date Jan 30, 2012

A meta-analysis done by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) into the relationship between alcohol consumption and heart disease provides new insight into the long-held belief that drinking a glass of red wine ...

Recommended for you

Europe's police crack massive horsemeat trafficking ring

date Apr 25, 2015

Police from seven European countries detained 26 people in a crackdown on a horsemeat trafficking ring two years after a tainted meat scandal that rocked the continent, the EU's judicial agency Eurojust said Saturday.

Text messaging useful for reaching 'at-risk' teens about sex

date Apr 24, 2015

Text messaging that connects teens with sexual health educators is effective for delivering sexual health information, according to a recent study in The Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University.The ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.