Alcohol, the overlooked drug: clinical pharmacist perspectives on addressing alcohol in primary care.

Journal article


Madden, M., Stewart, D., Mills, T. and McCambridge, J. (2023). Alcohol, the overlooked drug: clinical pharmacist perspectives on addressing alcohol in primary care. Addiction science & clinical practice. 18 (1), p. 22. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13722-023-00378-x
AuthorsMadden, M., Stewart, D., Mills, T. and McCambridge, J.
AbstractAttempts to routinely embed brief interventions in health systems have long been challenging, with healthcare professionals concerned about role adequacy, legitimacy, and support. This is the first study to explore clinical pharmacists' experiences of discussing alcohol with patients in their new role in UK primary care, in developing a novel approach to brief intervention. It investigates their confidence with the subject of alcohol in routine practice and explores views on a new approach, integrating alcohol into the medication review as another drug directly linked to the patient's health conditions and medicines, rather than a separated 'healthy living' issue. The study forms part of wider efforts to repurpose and reimagine the potential application of brief interventions and to rework their contents. Longitudinal qualitative study of 10 recruits to the new clinical pharmacist role in English primary care, involving three semi-structured interviews over approximately 16 months, supplemented by 10 one-off interviews with pharmacists already established in general practice. When raised at all, enquiring about alcohol in medication reviews was described in terms of calculating dose and level of consumption, leading to crude advice to reduce drinking. The idea was that those who appeared dependent should be referred to specialist services, though few such referrals were recalled. Pharmacists acknowledged that they were not currently considering alcohol as a drug in their practice and were interested in learning more about this concept and the approach it entailed, particularly in relation to polypharmacy. Some recognised a linked need to enhance consultation skills. Alcohol complicates routine clinical care and adversely impacts patient outcomes, even for those drinking at seemingly unremarkable levels. Changing clinical practice on alcohol requires engaging with, and supportively challenging, routine practices and entrenched ideas of different kinds. Framing alcohol as a drug may help shift the focus from patients with alcohol problems to problems caused for patients by alcohol. This is less stigmatising and provides role legitimacy for pharmacists to address alcohol clinically in medication reviews, thus providing one element in the formation of a new prevention paradigm. This approach invites further innovations tailored to other healthcare professional roles. [Abstract copyright: © 2023. The Author(s).]
KeywordsQualitative Research; Humans; Professional Role; Pharmacists; Clinical pharmacy; Medication review; Brief intervention; Primary Health Care; Polypharmacy; Qualitative research; Alcohol
Year2023
JournalAddiction science & clinical practice
Journal citation18 (1), p. 22
PublisherSpringer
ISSN1940-0640
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1186/s13722-023-00378-x
Publication dates
Online30 Mar 2023
Publication process dates
Accepted23 Mar 2023
Deposited14 Apr 2023
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Open
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