When to intervene for male and female patients' alcohol consumption: What general practitioners say

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Results of a telephone survey of 103 Sydney general medical practitioners are reported. General practitioners were asked to indicate how much alcohol male and female patients would need to be consuming to warrant their intervention. The mean levels at which general practitioners stated they would intervene were 5.1 drinks per day for male patients and 3.8 drinks per day for female patients. These mean scores fall within the consumption ranges identified by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) as being hazardous and are below the levels specified as harmful. While the results of the present study indicate some consistency between general practitioners' views and NHMRC recommended levels for low-risk alcohol consumption, there were important discrepancies. For instance, using NHMRC categories of risk, general practitioners would intervene for female patients at significantly higher levels (P < 0.05) of associated risk than they would for male patients. In addition, many general practitioners did not differentiate between the quantities of alcohol consumed for which they would intervene for male and female patients; this is an area needing attention. While the results indicate that some general practitioners have the basic knowledge required for involvement in detection and early intervention activities for alcohol-related problems, future training programmes should address the fact that two-thirds of general practitioners either overestimate or underestimate the level of patient alcohol consumption at which it is appropriate to intervene.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)622-625
Number of pages4
JournalMedical Journal of Australia
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1990
Externally publishedYes


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