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New e-learning course for GPs to help patients with alcohol problems

New e-learning course for GPs to help patients with alcohol problems

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Guidance to help GPs support their patients with alcohol problems has been launched today by the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP).

The e-learning course focuses on both physical and mental health issues associated with alcohol, as well as raising awareness of how the families of patients with alcohol problems can also be affected.

It covers:

• identification of patients with alcohol problems and brief advice
• medical aspects: physical health
• medical aspects: mental health
• dependency and medically assisted withdrawal
• alcohol and the family
• aftercare, recovery and relapse prevention

Dr Clare Gerada, chair of RCGP, said: "Alcohol has the potential to cause a wide range of medical and social problems so it is important for GPs to be able to recognise the symptoms of alcohol abuse in their patients and to know how to deal with them.

“These excellent resources will really enhance the knowledge and handling strategies of healthcare professionals dealing with alcohol issues in primary care, as well as benefiting patients, their families and the wider community. They are also valuable tools for continued professional development, which is essential for GP revalidation.”

The course builds on the successful introductory level ‘Alcohol: Identification and Brief Advice’ course released last year, which raised awareness to a general audience. It is freely available as part of the RCGP’s Online Learning Environment (OLE).

The course uses case studies, videos of simulated consultations, and written assessments based on up-to-date research to provide healthcare professionals with a comprehensive understanding of the negative effects of alcohol in their patients, methods of measuring alcohol consumption and available interventions.

Completion of this e-learning course is the first step in achieving the RCGP Certificate in the Management of Alcohol Problems in Primary Care- Level 1. The second step entails participation in a face-to-face training course run by the RCGP’s Substance Misuse and Associated Health team.

The RCGP runs the courses regularly and they are also available to external course organisers for local delivery. They aim to equip participants with:

• an understanding of the models of behavioural change
• an awareness and knowledge of categories of problem drinking and screening tools
• the ability to identify the skills needed to deliver brief interventions
• the ability to carry out safe alcohol detoxification
• an insight into the role of primary care in aftercare 
• an overview of complementary approaches, such as Alcoholics Anonymous

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