Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

Factors affecting primary care practitioners' alcohol-related discussions with older adults: A qualitative study

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Beth Bareham, Jemma Stewart, Professor Eileen KanerORCiD, Professor Barbara Hanratty



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


© 2021 Royal College of General Practitioners. All rights reserved.Background Risk of harm from drinking is heightened in later life, owing to age-related sensitivities to alcohol. Primary care services have a key role in supporting older people (aged ≥50 years) to make healthier decisions about alcohol. Aim To examine primary care practitioners' perceptions of factors that promote and challenge their work to support older people in alcohol riskreduction. Design and setting Qualitative study consisting of semi-structured interviews and focus groups with primary care practitioners in Northern England. Method Thirty-five practitioners (GPs, practice/district nurses, pharmacists, dentists, social care practitioners, and domiciliary carers) participated in eight interviews and five focus groups. Data were analysed thematically, applying principles of constant comparison. Results Practitioners highlighted particular sensitivities to discussing alcohol among older people, and reservations about older people's resistance to making changes in old age; given that drinking practices could be established, and promote socialisation and emotional wellbeing in later life. Age-related health issues increased older people's contact with practitioners, but management of older people's long-term conditions was prioritised over discussion of alcohol. Dedicated time to address alcohol in routine consultations with older people and training in alcohol intervention facilitated practitioners, particularly pharmacists and practice nurses. Conclusion There are clear opportunities to support older people in primary care to make healthier decisions about alcohol. Dedicated time to address alcohol, training in identification of alcohol-related risks (particularly those associated with old age), and tailored interventions for older people, feasible to implement in practice settings, would help primary care practitioners to address older people's alcohol use.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Bareham BK, Stewart J, Kaner E, Hanratty B

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: British Journal of General Practice

Year: 2021

Volume: 71

Issue: 711

Pages: E762-E771

Print publication date: 01/10/2021

Online publication date: 30/09/2021

Acceptance date: 20/04/2021

Date deposited: 24/10/2023

ISSN (print): 0960-1643

ISSN (electronic): 1478-5242

Publisher: Royal College of General Practitioners


DOI: 10.3399/BJGP.2020.1118

PubMed id: 33950854


Altmetrics provided by Altmetric


Funder referenceFunder name
National Institute for Health Research