Objectives: To determine GDP practices, beliefs and attitudes to providing alcohol advice in the primary care setting.
Methods: A cross-sectional survey. A self-administered, anonymous postal questionnaire distributed to a random sample of 300 GDPs in Scotland.
Results: A response rate of 64% (188/295) was achieved. The average time since qualification was 19 years (range 2-39), 60% were male and 24% worked in remote and/or rural practice.
Recording of alcohol consumption was carried out by 70% of GDPs either in the clinical notes or passively via medical history forms, however only 17% subsequently provided alcohol related advice. The most commonly used method for the delivery of the advice was verbally.
The majority of GDPs believe a relationship exists between alcohol and; general health (96%), oral cancer (92%) and oral health (80%) including caries (44%) and periodontal disease (61%).
GDPs articulate that providing alcohol related advice is relevant (63%), beneficial (68%) and also useful (63%) but are not confident (41%) and find it difficult (45%) and embarrassing (42%) discussing this with patients. Less than a third intend to provide alcohol advice as part of patient management or have a plan about when they might implement this behaviour.
Current alcohol screening and delivery of related health advice among GDPs is low. GDPs accept that excessive alcohol consumption adversely influences health outcomes, agree that it might be beneficial, useful and relevant to primary care dentistry but this fails to translate into the delivery of alcohol related advice during dental consultation.