Aims: To explore general practitioners' (GPs') follow-up experiences with patients discharged from hospital after admittance for alcohol-related somatic conditions.
Design and participants: Two focus groups with GPs (four women and 10 men), calling for stories about whether the intervention given in the hospital had been recognised by the GP and how this knowledge affected their follow up of the patient's alcohol problem. Systematic text condensation was applied for analysis.
Findings: A majority of the GPs had experienced patients with already recognised alcohol problems being rediscovered by the hospital staff. Still, they presented examples of how seeing the patient in a different context might present new opportunities. Few participants had received adequate information from the hospital about their patient's alcohol status, and they emphasised that a report about what had happened and what was planned was needed for follow up. Care pathways for patients with alcohol problems were seen as fragmented. Yet they described how alcohol-related hospital admissions might function as an eye-opener for the patient and a window of opportunity for lifestyle change.
Conclusions: Hospital admittances provide important opportunities for change, but hospital care is seen as fragmented and poorly communicated to the GPs. For shared responsibility and follow up, all participating agents, including the patient, must be sufficiently informed about what has happened and what will follow. For the patient, hospital admittance is usually brief, while the relationship with their GP is long term, even lifelong. GPs are therefore key partners for programme development.