Kraus, L., Schulte, B., Manthey, J., Rehm, J.Alcohol screening and alcohol interventions among patients with hypertension in primary health care: an empirical survey of German general practitioners
Addiction Research & Theory, 1-8, doi: 10.1080/16066359.2016.1263728
Background: Alcohol is one of the least intervened risk factors in the management of hypertension at the primary care level. In order to improve alcohol interventions, a better understanding of knowledge, attitudes and clinical practice of lifestyle interventions in the management of hypertension is needed. Method: As a part of a European study (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, UK), 211 German general practitioners (GPs) were recruited in Bavaria and Hamburg and surveyed via an Internet-based questionnaire. Results were compared with the European sample (n=2870). Results: One-third of the patients seen by German GPs had hypertension (36.2%, standard deviation (SD): 14.6) and among cases with hypertension, less than half were ever screened for alcohol (4.5 out of 10 patients). The foremost reasons for not screening for alcohol were that alcohol was not considered a major risk factor for hypertension plus the lack of knowledge of appropriate alcohol screening instruments. The majority of German GPs managed patients with hazardous drinking levels themselves or in their practice (71.3%, 95% confidence interval (CI): 64.6–77.2%), but only 42.0% (95% CI: 35.2–49.0%) managed alcohol dependent patients. German screening rates were slightly lower but interventions of screened positive patients higher than the European average. Conclusions: Rates of alcohol screening in patients with hypertension in primary health care may be increased by improving GPs knowledge of alcohol as a major risk factor for hypertension, increasing GPs education on alcohol and screening instruments, and providing reimbursement. This may increase treatment of alcohol problems in patients with hypertension and reduce hypertension.