GPs key to reducing alcohol harm

The importance of primary care in reducing alcohol-related harm in Scotland has been emphasised by two reports.

The findings highlight the important role that GPs have in raising the issue of alcohol use with their patients.

The research was undertaken by researchers from the Universities of Edinburgh, Stirling and Newcastle as part of Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP).

SHAAP is a group of medical and clinical experts which campaigns to reduce the impact of alcohol-related harm in Scotland.

Sensitive matter

The reports discuss challenges that GPs can face in raising the sensitive issue of alcohol use with patients to prevent and reduce harms.

They also highlight the role that incentives and sufficient support for training for primary care staff can play in ensuring effective interventions.

Important issue

The launch at the Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh on 22 June, preceded the publication of the Scottish Government’s refresh of its 2009 strategy, Changing Scotland’s Relationship with Alcohol: A Framework for Action.

Scotland continues to have the highest level of alcohol consumption and harm in the UK.

One million Scots drink above the recommended guidelines, and 22 Scots die each week because of alcohol – twice as many as the 1980s.

Delivering effective discussion about alcohol between GPs and their patients is not just about the operational mechanisms associated with the national programme, such as funding, training and IT systems. It is also about GPs having the time to provide person-centred care, to understand the complexities of external social and personal issues that people are facing that can trigger harmful or hazardous consumption.

Professor Aisha Holloway


Related links

A copy of both reports are available here:


Professor Aisha Holloway profile