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Optimizing the delivery of interventions for harmful alcohol use in primary healthcare: an update

Segura, Lidiaa; Anderson, Peterb,c; Gual, Antonid,e,f

Current Opinion in Psychiatry: July 2018 - Volume 31 - Issue 4 - p 324–332
doi: 10.1097/YCO.0000000000000435
ADDICTIVE DISORDERS: Edited by John B. Saunders and Linda B. Cottler

Purpose of review Alcohol is a leading risk factor for ill health and premature death. Regardless of poor levels of implementation achieved after more than 30 years of research and policy advice, alcohol screening and brief advice (SBA) remains one of the best policy options. This study updates the evidence by considering recent publications on SBA for heavy drinking and alcohol use disorder in primary healthcare at a timely moment, because researchers are, at present, debating future direction of research and policy in this field.

Recent findings Systematic literature search between 1 January 2016 and 31 December 2017 was conducted for new research on alcohol SBA in primary healthcare. In all, 63 articles were included.

Summary Primary healthcare-based SBA programmes are effective in reducing alcohol consumption among heavier drinkers. There is low implementation of these programmes in real practice. Academia is rethinking and debating future directions.

aProgram on Substance Abuse, Public Health Agency, Government of Catalonia, Barcelona, Spain

bInstitute of Health & Society, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

cFaculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, Maastricht University, Maastricht, the Netherlands

dAddictions Unit, Psychiatry Department, Neurosciences Institute, Hospital Clinic

eInstitut d’Investigacions Biomèdiques, August Pi i Sunyer (IDIBAPS), Barcelona

fRed de Trastornos Adictivos (RTA–RETICS), Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Madrid, Spain

Correspondence to Lidia Segura, Program on Substance Abuse, Public Health Agency, Government of Catalonia, C/Roc Boronat 81–95, 08005 Barcelona, Spain. E-mail:

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