University of Leicester researchers in the UK have found that asking two simple questions could help GPs to identify patients who are potentially at risk of alcohol problems.

1)      How often do you have six or more drinks on one occasion?

2)     As a result of your drinking, did anything happen in the last year that you wish didn’t happen?

These questions had an accuracy of 79.8% in detecting substance abuse among a total of 5646 respondents.

The researchers found that using a combination of a short, two-question test with a longer survey correctly identified patients with alcohol problems in 90.9 per cent of all cases.

This represents a major breakthrough for GP’s as they can detect alcohol problems in a pragmatic timeframe. The researchers from the University of Leicester stated, “At the moment, GPs ask patients about alcohol problems during about 3 per cent of consultations. Routine screening using simple questions are an attempt to improve the situation.”