New resources help health professionals have conversations about alcohol with patients

Latest news 3 December 2019|Counties Manukau Health (CM Health) has developed a series of videos to support health professionals talk to patients about their alcohol consumption.

The new videos, by the Alcohol Harm Minimisation team demonstrate how to deliver brief advice, under the Alcohol ABC Approach which includes: Asking about alcohol use, providing Brief Advice and refer for Counselling when appropriate. This approach means alcohol assessment and advice becomes part of the everyday practice of health professionals.

 “We are committed to reduce hazardous alcohol use and the harms from alcohol that disproportionately affect our Counties Manukau community”, says CM Health Director of Population Health Dr Gary Jackson.

“With the Alcohol ABC Approach training we are building the capacity and capability of those interacting with patients so that they can provide equitable access to high quality and culturally appropriate assessments for alcohol use, brief and earlier intervention, and referral to treatment when appropriate”.

The videos were adapted from original training videos created by General Practitioner Dr John McMenamin, primary care advisor on alcohol to the Health Promotion Agency.

“Clinicians are encouraged to ask all patients about alcohol. Many patients are experiencing harm from their alcohol use and only need a few questions to open what can be an important conversation that can have major benefits for their health, their relationships, their job and their future.

“These new videos show how to have a simple conversation about alcohol. They demonstrate an approach to use that covers all stages of patient concern - a brief yet effective approach”, says Dr McMenamin.

In the Counties Manukau district it is estimated that 75,000 people have hazardous alcohol use. One in five family harm episodes involves alcohol.

At the Middlemore Emergency Department (ED), up to 100 people show up each week due to harmful drinking. Leading up to summer and during the holiday season, this number increases sharply. Over the last New Year’s day and night the ED received 63 patients with alcohol-related presentations – more than 10 per cent of all patients.

Click below to access the videos:

1‘YOU’ Approach

Ask the patient:

“Do you have any concerns about your drinking?”

2.‘THEM’ Approach

When the patient has no concerns, move onto the ‘them approach’ by asking:

“Has anyone else expressed concerns about your drinking?”

 3‘ME’ Approach

If the patient denies concerns for themselves and from others, move onto the ‘me approach’ by asking:

“As a health professional, I have some concerns about your drinking. Would it be ok if I shared some of these concerns with you?”


For more information or advice, contact CM Health’s Alcohol Harm Minimisation team at .

alcohol harm counselling training alcohol abc ED emergency department

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