Evaluation of an alcohol screening and brief advice training programme for NHS general dental practitioners

Eur J Dent Educ. 2018 Feb;22(1):34-39. doi: 10.1111/eje.12241. Epub 2016 Oct 26.


Introduction: Primary care dentists are in a unique position to screen for alcohol misuse and provide brief advice to patients; however, lack of knowledge and confidence are some of the barriers cited for their reluctance to do so.

Aims: This study describes the evaluation of a novel brief alcohol advice training programme specifically designed and tailored to the needs of NHS general dental practitioners.

Materials and methods: The training programme was developed as part of a feasibility trial and included a mixture of theoretical and practical elements. During 8 h of highly interactive sessions, participants took part in role-plays, including scenarios of patients of varying age groups, oral health status, dental attendance and different levels of motivation. Training manuals and other resources were also given. Knowledge, attitudes and confidence scores were assessed before and after the sessions. Wilcoxon matched-pairs signed-ranks and McNemar's tests were used to compare participants' performance before and after the completion of the programme.

Results: Significant positive changes were observed in all training objectives. There was an overall improvement of 23% in levels of knowledge, a 40% increase in positive attitudes towards alcohol screening and intervention and 80% increase in confidence scores. Fidelity assessments of the implementation of the intervention in the trial showed that dentists who completed the training successfully went on to screen for alcohol misuse and provide brief advice to patients.

Conclusion: NHS dentists can be successfully trained with the relevant knowledge, attitudes and confidence needed to deliver alcohol screening and brief advice to patients.

Keywords: alcohol brief advice; dental education; general dental practice.

MeSH terms

  • Alcoholism / diagnosis*
  • Alcoholism / prevention & control*
  • Directive Counseling*
  • General Practice, Dental / education*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Program Evaluation
  • Self Report
  • State Medicine
  • United Kingdom