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Allgemeinmedizin 1. Mai 2010

Why do general practitioners not screen and intervene regarding alcohol consumption in Slovenia? A focus group study

AIM: To identify barriers influencing general practitioners' decisions regarding alcohol screening and brief intervention (SBI) in Slovenia. Background: Slovenia occupies third place in a league of 51 European countries with respect to alcohol consumption. General practitioners in Slovenia have the majority of contacts with patients in primary healthcare but they rarely or never ask patients about their drinking habits.

METHOD: Six focus groups with a total of 32 general practitioners from different parts of the country were set up. Participants discussed varied topics and the most significant barriers were identified through qualitative analysis.

RESULTS: The identified barriers were lack of funding, absence of societal support, lack of knowledge and guidelines, inadequate counselling skills, different interpretations regarding definitions of what constitutes an alcoholic beverage, lack of time, alcohol screening not considered to be an integral part of general practice, personal characteristics of general practitioners, patients' unwillingness to participate in SBI, and ethical dilemmas.

CONCLUSION: Lack of knowledge and guidelines, and inadequate counselling skills can be solved through educational programs. In order to change drinking habits, substantial changes in public and personal attitudes towards alcohol consumption, involving many partners, are necessary.

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