Perceived barriers by health care providers for screening and management of excessive alcohol use in an emergency department of a low-income country

Alcohol. 2018 Sep:71:65-73. doi: 10.1016/j.alcohol.2018.01.003. Epub 2018 Jan 8.


Annually, alcohol causes 3.3 million deaths; countless more alcohol-related injury patients are treated in emergency departments (EDs) worldwide. Studies show that alcohol-related injury patients reduce their at-risk alcohol-use behavior with a brief negotiational interview (BNI) in the ED. This project aims to identify potential perceived barriers to implementing a BNI in Tanzania. A knowledge, attitude, and practice questionnaire was piloted and administered to all emergency department health care practitioners, including physicians, advanced medical officers, and nurses. The questionnaire included the Perceived Alcohol Stigma (PAS) Scale. The survey was self-administered in English, the language of health care instruction, with a Swahili translation available if preferred. Data were analyzed with relative and absolute frequencies and Spearman's correlation. Thirty-four (100%) health care practitioners completed the survey. Our results found positive attitudes toward addressing alcohol misuse (88%), but very poor knowledge of recommended alcohol-use limits (24%). Participants were willing to discuss alcohol use (88%) and to screen (71%) for alcohol-use disorders. Most health care practitioners report significant stigma against those with alcohol-use disorders (39% discrimination, 53% devaluation, 71% either). Counseling patients about high-risk alcohol use was directly and positively associated with at-risk alcohol and counseling education and believing it was common to ask patients about tobacco and alcohol use; it was negatively associated with believing it was 'not my role' or that knowing about alcohol use 'won't make a difference'. Stigma was negatively and indirectly associated with counseling patients. In conclusion, in an ED in Tanzania, health care practitioners have positive attitudes toward addressing at-risk alcohol use, and endorsed having training in alcohol misuse in school. Unfortunately, participants did not demonstrate knowledge of recommended alcohol limit guidelines. Similarly, among practitioners, there is a significant discrimination and devaluation stigma against those who misuse alcohol. These factors must be addressed prior to a successful implementation of an alcohol harm reduction intervention.

Keywords: Alcohol use; Brief intervention; Education; Emergency department; Stigma.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alcoholism / diagnosis*
  • Alcoholism / therapy*
  • Developing Countries / economics*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Personnel / psychology*
  • Health Services Accessibility*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Social Stigma
  • Tanzania
  • Young Adult