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Open Access Research article

Effectiveness of skills-based training using the Drink-less package to increase family practitioner confidence in intervening for alcohol use disorders

Elizabeth M Proude12*, Katherine M Conigrave1234 and Paul S Haber123

Author Affiliations

1 Drug Health Services, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Camperdown, New South Wales, Australia

2 School of Public Health, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

3 Discipline of Medicine, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

4 Discipline of Psychological Medicine, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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BMC Medical Education 2006, 6:8  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-6-8

Published: 6 February 2006



Misuse of alcohol is second only to tobacco as a leading cause of preventable death in Australia. There is an opportunity in family practice to detect problems and intervene with people at risk of alcohol-related harm before complications occur. However, family practitioners (FPs) report low levels of confidence in managing patients with drinking problems. The aim of this study was to determine whether the interactive training session using the 'Drink-less' package led to improvement in FPs' self-reported level of confidence in detecting and providing interventions for risky alcohol consumption.


FPs in urban and rural New South Wales were invited to training sessions in their local area. An introductory overview preceded a practical skills- based session, using the Drink-less package. Participants completed before and after evaluation forms.


While 49% (CI 43 – 55) of the attending FPs indicated at baseline that they felt confident in identifying at-risk drinkers, this proportion rose to 90% (95% CI: 87 – 93) post-session, and they also reported increases in confidence from 36% (95% CI: 31 – 41) to 90% in their ability to advise patients. Urban FPs reported lower levels of confidence than rural FPs, both pre- and post-session.


Training sessions in the Drink-less intervention resulted in increased self-reported confidence in detection and brief intervention for alcohol problems. Further research is needed to determine the duration of this effect and its influence on practice behaviour.