Introduction The number of deaths in England due to liver disease is rising. The North West has the highest rate of alcohol related deaths for men and women.1 Brief interventions can reduce harmful drinking2 and therefore have the potential to contribute to reducing the burden of liver disease.
There is a recognition that all health professionals must strive to detect risk factors for liver disease and intervene early to manage them. 3
Do the next generation of doctors know this?
Methods A short survey was completed by 100 Manchester medical students in clinical placements to assess their knowledge of identification and brief advice (IBA), its effectiveness in comparison to smoking cessation advice and their knowledge of which particular patients benefit most from its use.
Results 96% of the students involved in the survey had not heard of IBA.
Once IBA was explained 21.1% thought that it would be less effective than smoking cessation advice.
Only 47% of the students correctly thought that increasing risk drinkers were the group that would benefit most rather than higher risk or dependent drinkers.
Conclusion The vast majority of the students involved in the survey were not aware of IBA. A significant number underestimated its impact and there was confusion about which patients would benefit.
This is despite the students all being in clinical placements in the North West of England
The unfamiliarity of these students to IBA may well be a reflection of its limited use in day to day practice by their supervising clinicians.
Despite the recognition of its importance there may be a long way to go in making identification and brief advice routine practice for our future doctors.
Burden of Liver Disease and Inequalities in the North West of England. Carl Benyon, Dan Hungerford. North West Public Health Observatory
National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence. Alchol Use Disorders: Diagnosis, assessment and management of harmful drinking and alcohol dependence. (Clinical Guideline CG115.) 2011
Neeraj Bhala, Guruprasad Aithal, James Ferguson. How to tackle rising rates of liver disease in UK. BMJ 2013;346
Disclosure of Interest None Declared.