Factors affecting primary care practitioners’ alcohol-related discussions with older adults: Qualitative study.

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Risk of harm from drinking is heightened in later life, due to age-related sensitivities to alcohol. Primary care services have a key role in supporting older people to make healthier decisions about alcohol.To examine primary care practitioners’ perceptions of factors that promote and challenge their work to support older people in alcohol risk-reduction.Qualitative study consisting of semi-structured interviews and focus groups with primary care practitioners in Northern England.Thirty-five practitioners (general practitioners, practice/district nurses, pharmacists, dentists, social care practitioners, domiciliary carers) participated in eight interviews and five focus groups. Data were analysed thematically, applying principles of constant comparison.Practitioners highlighted particular sensitivities amongst older people to discussing alcohol, and reservations about older people’s resistance to making changes in old age; given 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.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 support primary care practitioners to address older people’s alcohol use.

View the full article @ The British journal of general practice : the journal of the Royal College of General Practitioners
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Authors: Bethany Kate Bareham, Jemma Stewart, Eileen Kaner, Barbara Hanratty