Aims: To evaluate patients' opinions of the usefulness of alcohol-related discussions with general practitioners (GPs), the time used for the discussion and its main content.
Methods: Exit poll survey to 2000 consecutive patients right after GP consultations.
Results: The response rate was 60.2% (1203/2000). Of the patients 11.6% (139/1203) reported that they were asked and/or advised about alcohol during the consultation. The time used for discussion about alcohol was mostly <4 min; longer for heavy than for non-heavy drinkers. Main topics of the discussion dealt with quantities consumed and harm caused by alcohol. The majority of the patients (81%) reported that discussions concerning alcohol were useful. In that respect heavy drinkers did not differ from non-heavy drinkers.
Conclusions: Discussions about alcohol in primary health care were rare and short, but patients' opinions about their usefulness were mainly positive.