Aims: The present study aimed to evaluate the frequency and the target group of alcohol screening and brief interventions in health-care settings and how well this level of activity reflects public opinion.
Design: A general population survey.
Setting and participants: A random sample of Finns aged 15-69 years with a 74% response rate (n = 2725).
Measurements: Frequency counts were used to evaluate the level of activity. Logistic regression models were used to examine which groups were asked and advised about alcohol use and which groups considered it useful.
Findings: More than 90% had positive attitudes towards being asked about their alcohol use. Of those who had been in contact with health care (n = 2062) in the 12 months before the survey, 33.3% had been asked about their alcohol use, being most often men, young, heavy drinkers and those of high socio-economic status. Thirty-seven per cent of those who had been asked were given advice, being most often heavy drinkers and those with a normal body mass index. However, 50% of heavy drinkers who had been asked about their alcohol use had not been advised about it. Of those who had been advised, 71.9% considered it useful, especially older subjects, and also including heavy episodic drinkers, although less than others.
Conclusions: In Finland, the frequency of health-care professionals asking and giving advice on alcohol is relatively low. However, public opinion towards these discussions is positive. Our results encourage the support and uptake of systematic screenings and brief interventions in health-care settings.
© 2011 The Authors, Addiction © 2011 Society for the Study of Addiction.