Attitude changes among emergency department triage staff after conducting routine alcohol screening

C Nordqvist, K Johansson, K Lindqvist, P Bendtsen
Addictive Behaviors 2006, 31 (2): 191-202
Excessive alcohol consumption is common among injury patients, but routine alcohol interventions seem to be difficult to implement in emergency departments. An obstacle seen in previous studies is the limited time available in a real-world setting for staff to participate in routine alcohol screening and interventions. In the present study, ordinary staff participated in a simple alcohol screening procedure. The aim of the study was to evaluate the feasibility of this procedure and if there was any change in attitudes and practices among triage staff after the implementation. We analyzed interviews with six staff members and questionnaires completed by 29 nurses and medical secretaries before and after a period of systematic routine screening. The staff reported that the routine worked well and that few patients reacted negatively. A positive change was seen in attitudes towards alcohol preventive measures in general. However, this seems not to be sufficient for the staff to spontaneously engage more actively. In fact, more of the staff were uncertain after the study period whether the emergency department is an appropriate place for alcohol screening and intervention despite an increased role legitimacy and perceived competence. There is a need for further development of alcohol prevention models that are acceptable for the staff to implement as part of the daily routine.

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