Obstacles to carrying out brief intervention for heavy drinkers in primary health care: a focus group study

Drug Alcohol Rev. 2003 Jun;22(2):169-73. doi: 10.1080/09595230100100606.


The objective of this study was to identify possible obstacles to carrying out competent early identification and brief intervention (EIBI) of heavy drinkers in primary health care. Qualitative focus group discussion method study applying the deductive framework approach. Six focus groups involving 18 general practitioners and 19 nurses were recruited from primary health care of the City of Tampere, Finland. Possible obstacles are: (1) confusion regarding the content of early-phase heavy drinking, (2) lack of self-efficacy among primary health care professionals, (3) sense of lacking time needed for carrying out brief intervention, (4) not having simple guidelines for brief intervention, (5) sense of difficulty in identifying of early-phase heavy drinkers, and (6) uncertainty about the justification for initiating discussion on alcohol issues with patients. The main actions to be taken to promote brief intervention are to educate professionals about the content of early-phase heavy drinking and to produce directing, but not excessively demanding guidelines for carrying out EIBI. Probably successful personal experiences carrying out EIBI can improve professionals' self-efficacy and give to them final justification for discussion alcohol issues with their patients.

MeSH terms

  • Alcoholism / diagnosis
  • Alcoholism / prevention & control
  • Alcoholism / rehabilitation*
  • Counseling
  • Female
  • Finland
  • Guidelines as Topic
  • Health Personnel* / education
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Preventive Health Services / organization & administration
  • Primary Health Care*
  • Professional Competence*
  • Professional-Patient Relations
  • Psychotherapy, Brief*
  • Research Design
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Time Factors
  • Workforce