How primary care providers talk to patients about alcohol: A qualitative study

  • McCormick K
  • Cochran N
  • Back A
 et al. 
  • 20

    Readers

    Mendeley users who have this article in their library.
  • 74

    Citations

    Citations of this article.

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Alcohol misuse is a common and well-documented source of morbidity and mortality. Brief primary care alcohol counseling has been shown to benefit patients with alcohol misuse.

OBJECTIVE: To describe alcohol-related discussions between primary care providers and patients who screened positive for alcohol misuse.

DESIGN: An exploratory, qualitative analysis of audiotaped primary care visits containing discussions of alcohol use.

PARTICIPANTS: Participants were 29 male outpatients at a Veterans Affairs (VA) General Internal Medicine Clinic who screened positive for alcohol misuse and their 14 primary care providers, all of whom were participating in a larger quality improvement trial.

MEASUREMENTS: Audiotaped visits with any alcohol-related discussion were transcribed and coded using grounded theory and conversation analysis, both qualitative research techniques.

RESULTS: Three themes were identified: (1) patients disclosed information regarding their alcohol use, but providers often did not explore these disclosures; (2) advice about alcohol use was typically vague and/or tentative in contrast to smoking-related advice, which was more common and usually more clear and firm; and (3) discomfort on the part of the provider was evident during alcohol-related discussions.

LIMITATIONS: Generalizability of findings from this single-site VA study is unknown.

CONCLUSION: Findings from this single site study suggest that provider discomfort and avoidance are important barriers to evidence-based brief alcohol counseling. Further investigation into current alcohol counseling practices is needed to determine whether these patterns extend to other primary care settings, and to inform future educational efforts.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Alcohol drinking
  • Communication
  • Physician-patient relations
  • Primary care

Get free article suggestions today

Mendeley saves you time finding and organizing research

Sign up here
Already have an account ?Sign in

Find this document

Get full text

Authors

  • Kinsey A. McCormick

  • Nancy E. Cochran

  • Anthony L. Back

  • Joseph O. Merrill

  • Emily C. Williams

  • Katharine A. Bradley

Cite this document

Choose a citation style from the tabs below

Save time finding and organizing research with Mendeley

Sign up for free