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Screening and brief intervention for alcohol use disorders in primary care

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 09 January 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:e8706
  1. Elizabeth Murray, reader in primary care
  1. 1Department of Primary Care and Population Sciences, University College London, London N19 5LW, UK
  1. elizabeth.murray{at}

Simple screening and provision of written information may be enough for most patients

Excess alcohol consumption is a growing public health problem, causing around 5.3% of deaths in those aged under 60 years worldwide.1 In England, about one in four adults aged 16-65 (about seven million people) drink hazardously or harmfully.2 Alcohol accounts for 10% of disability adjusted life years (DALYs) and costs to the NHS of around £3bn (€3.7bn; $4.8bn) each year.3 High alcohol consumption is one of the top modifiable risk factors for premature morbidity and mortality, along with smoking and hypertension, yet much less research has been done on alcohol use disorders than on smoking or hypertension. The publication of Kaner and colleagues’ linked paper (doi:10.1136/bmj.e8501), which reports the findings of the SIPS (Screening and Intervention Programme for Sensible drinking) trial in primary care, is therefore welcome.4

Although screening and brief intervention reduce alcohol consumption by …

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