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Comparison of brief interventions in primary care on smoking and excessive alcohol consumption: a population survey in England

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Eileen KanerORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


BackgroundBrief interventions have a modest but meaningful effect on promoting smoking cessation and reducing excessive alcohol consumption. Guidelines recommend offering such advice opportunistically and regularly but incentives vary between the two behaviours.AimTo use representative data from the perspective of patients to compare the prevalence and characteristics of people who smoke or drink excessively and who receive a brief intervention.Design and settingData was from a representative sample of 15 252 adults from household surveys in England.MethodRecall of brief interventions on smoking and alcohol use, sociodemographic information, and smoking and alcohol consumption patterns were assessed among smokers and those who drink excessively (AUDIT score of >= 8), who visited their GP surgery in the previous year.ResultsOf 1775 smokers, 50.4% recalled receiving brief advice on smoking in the previous year. Smokers receiving advice compared with those who did not were more likely to be older (odds ratio [OR] 17-year increments 1.19, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.06 to 1.34), female (OR 1.35, 95% CI = 1.10 to 1.65), have a disability (OR 1.44, 95% CI = 1.11 to 1.88), have made more quit attempts in the previous year (compared with no attempts: one attempt, OR 1.65, 95% CI = 1.32 to 2.08; >= 2 attempts, OR 2.02, 95% CI = 1.49 to 2.74), and have greater nicotine dependence (OR 1.17, 95% CI = 1.05 to 1.31) but were less likely to have no post-16 qualifications (OR 0.81, 95% CI = 0.66 to 1.00). Of 1110 people drinking excessively, 6.5% recalled receiving advice in their GP surgery on their alcohol consumption in the previous year. Those receiving advice compared with those who did not had higher AUDIT scores (OR 1.17, 95% CI = 1.12 to 1.23) and were less likely to be female (OR 0.44, 95% CI = 0.23 to 0.87).ConclusionWhereas approximately half of smokers in England visiting their GP in the past year report having received advice on cessation, <10% of those who drink excessively report having received advice on their alcohol consumption.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Brown J, West R, Angus C, Beard E, Brennan A, Drummond C, Hickman M, Holmes J, Kaner E, Michie S

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: British Journal of General Practice

Year: 2016

Volume: 66

Issue: 642

Pages: E1-E9

Online publication date: 01/01/2016

Acceptance date: 28/04/2015

Date deposited: 20/04/2016

ISSN (print): 0960-1643

ISSN (electronic): 1478-5242

Publisher: Royal College of General Practitioners


DOI: 10.3399/bjgp16X683149

PubMed id: 26719481


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Funder referenceFunder name
C1417/A7972Cancer Research UK
SPHR-SWP-ALC-WP5National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) School for Public Health Research