Acceptability of screening for early detection of liver disease in hazardous/harmful drinkers in primary care

Caroline Eyles*, Michael Moore, Nicholas Sheron, Paul Roderick, Wendy O'Brien, Geraldine M. Leydon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Background: It is estimated that one-quarter of adults in the UK drink at harmful/hazardous levels leading to increased mortality and alcohol liver disease (ALD). The Alcohol Liver Disease Detection Study (ALDDeS) aimed to test out in primary care the feasibility of alcohol misuse screening in adults, using the AUDIT questionnaire, and to assess screening harmful/hazardous alcohol users for ALD using newer non-invasive serum markers of fibrosis. Aim: To explore patients' experiences of taking part in ALDDeS and understanding of the delivery and process of screening for ALD using selfreport questionnaires and feedback of liver fibrosis risk using levels of non-invasive serum markers. Design and setting: A nested qualitative study based in five primary care practices in the UK. Method: From a sample of patients who were identified as drinking at harmful/hazardous levels, 30 participants were identified by maximum variation sampling for qualitative in-depth interviews. Using the principles of constant comparison the transcribed interviews were thematically analysed. Results: Receiving a postal AUDIT questionnaire was viewed as acceptable by participants. For some completing the AUDIT increased awareness of their hazardous alcohol use and a positive blood test indicating liver fibrosis was a catalyst for behaviour change. For others, a negative blood test result provided a licence to continue drinking at hazardous levels. A limited understanding of safe drinking and of ALD was common. Conclusion: Educational and training needs of primary care professionals must be taken into account, so that patients with marker levels indicating low risk of fibrosis are correctly informed about the likely risks of continuing to drink at the same levels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e516-e522
JournalBritish Journal of General Practice
Issue number613
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Alcoholic liver disease
  • Patient acceptance of health care
  • Primary care
  • Understanding


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