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Objective

The German treatment guideline on alcohol-related disorders recommends that general practitioners (GPs) offer brief advice on, and support with, reducing alcohol consumption to hazardous (at risk for health events) and harmful (exhibit health events) drinking patients. We aimed to estimate the implementation of this recommendation using general population data.

Design

Cross-sectional analysis of data (2021/2022) of a nationwide, population-based household survey.

Setting

Germany.

Participants

Population-based sample of 2247 adult respondents who reported hazardous or harmful drinking according to the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test-Consumption (AUDIT-C; score women: 4–12 and men: 5–12).

Main outcome measure

Ever receipt of ‘brief GP advice on, or support with, reducing alcohol consumption’. Differences in the likelihood of ever receiving advice and/or support (yes/no) relative to respondents’ sociodemographic, smoking and alcohol consumption characteristics were estimated using logistic regressions.

Results

Ever receipt of GP advice on/support with reducing drinking was reported among 6.3% (95% CI=5.3% to 7.4%), and the offer of support among 1.5% (95% CI=1.1% to 2.1%) of the hazardous and harmful drinking respondents. The likelihood of having ever received advice/support was positively associated with being older (OR=1.03 per year, 95% CI=1.01 to 1.04), a current or former (vs never) smoker (OR=2.36, 95% CI=1.46 to 3.80; OR=2.17, 95% CI=1.23 to 3.81) and with increasing alcohol consumption (OR=1.76 per score, 95% CI=1.59 to 1.95). One in two harmful drinking respondents (AUDIT-C score 10–12) reported appropriate advice/support. The likelihood was negatively associated with being woman (eg, OR=0.32, 95% CI=0.21 to 0.48), having a medium or high (vs low) education and with increasing household income.

Conclusions

A small proportion of hazardous and harmful drinking people in Germany report having ever received GP advice on, or support with, reducing alcohol consumption. The implementation of advice/support seems to be linked to specific socio-demographic characteristics, tobacco smoking and alcohol consumption level. Health policy measures should aim to increase alcohol screening, brief intervention rates and awareness for at-risk populations in primary care.

Trial registration number

DRKS00011322, DRKS00017157.

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Open access, General practice / Family practice

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