National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE)
Printable version

NICE urges professionals to correctly gather information on people’s alcohol drinking habits to ensure those who need help are not missed

Thousands of people asked each year could be missing out on brief interventions to help curb problem drinking, or a potential referral to specialist alcohol services.

To help address this NICE is recommending that people being asked about how much and how often they drink alcohol should have the information added to a validated questionnaire to identify if they need help, NICE has said.

new draft quality standard, which sets out priority areas for quality improvement for the care of adults with alcohol-use disorders, includes a statement about accurately recording alcohol use.

The new draft quality standard does not ask for health professionals to do additional work, but says information gathered should be correctly and appropriately stored. This should also avoid people being asked repeatedly about their alcohol use.

A large number of people who are alcohol dependent are not receiving treatment and this could be for a wide variety of reasons. According to data from Office for Health Improvement & Disparities, in England there were an estimated 602,391 dependent drinkers in need of specialist treatment in 2018 to 2019 (the most recent figures available) and only 28% were receiving treatment.

NICE is asking service providers, such as primary care services, secondary care services, social care services, criminal justice services, community and voluntary services, to ensure that systems are in place for the use of validated alcohol questionnaires when asking people about their alcohol use.

They should also ensure abbreviated versions of an appropriate questionnaire are available when time is limited.

The statement is included in the NICE draft quality standard for the diagnosis and management of alcohol-use disorders, developed by an independent advisory committee, which includes experts in the diagnosis and management of alcohol-use disorders.

Dr Paul Chrisp, director of the Centre for Guidelines at NICE, said: “Many of us are asked about our alcohol use when we interact with health services, but if an appropriate questionnaire is not used, people with alcohol problems could be slipping through the net and may not be receiving the support they need.

“We know a large number of people who are dependent of alcohol are not receiving treatment and this could be for a variety of reasons, but as part of a health and care system that continually learns from data, we do know that using a validated questionnaire provides commissioners with the information they need to organise appropriate services.”

Channel website:

Original article link:

Share this article

Latest News from
National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE)

Annual Conference - 2023