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Fam Pract. 2012 Apr;29(2):213-22. doi: 10.1093/fampra/cmr082. Epub 2011 Oct 10.

Challenges to alcohol and other drug discussions in the general practice consultation.

Author information

1
Department of Primary Care and General Practice, University of Otago, Wellington, New Zealand. helen.moriarty@otago.ac.nz

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

There is a widely held expectation that GPs will routinely use opportunities to provide opportunistic screening and brief intervention for alcohol and other drug (AOD) abuse, a major cause of preventable death and morbidity.

AIM:

To explore how opportunities arise for AOD discussion in GP consultations and how that advice is delivered.

DESIGN:

Analysis of video-recorded primary care consultations.

SETTING:

New Zealand General Practice.

METHODS:

Interactional content analysis of AOD consultations between 15 GP's and 56 patients identified by keyword search from a bank of digital video consultation recordings.

RESULTS:

AOD-related words were found in almost one-third (56/171) of the GP consultation transcripts (22 female and 34 male patients). The AOD dialogue varied from brief mention to pertinent advice. Tobacco and alcohol discussion featured more often than misuse of anxiolytics, night sedation, analgesics and caffeine, with only one direct enquiry about other (unspecified) recreational drug use. Discussion was associated with interactional delicacy on the part of both doctor and patient, manifested by verbal and non-verbal discomfort, use of closed statements, understatement, wry humour and sudden topic change.

CONCLUSIONS:

Mindful prioritization of competing demands, time pressures, topic delicacy and the acuteness of the presenting complaint can impede use of AOD discussion opportunities. Guidelines and tools for routine screening and brief intervention in primary care do not accommodate this reality. Possible responses to enhance AOD conversations within general practice settings are discussed.

PMID:
21987374
PMCID:
PMC3312113
DOI:
10.1093/fampra/cmr082
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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