Aims: To collect data on the behaviours associated with the prescription of pharmacotherapies (bupropion, acamprosate and naltrexone) for nicotine and alcohol dependence in Australian clinical practice. Design: Self-administered questionnaire. Setting: Australian clinical practice. Participants: Three specialties, psychiatrists, gastroenterologists and general practitioners (GPs) were defined by the Health Insurance Commission's derived major specialty classification codes and stratified by state (and territory) as well as rural and remote metropolitan area classification. A total of 2680 surveys were sent (670 psychiatrists, 82 gastroenterologists and 1928 GPs) with 1291 surveys used in the final analysis (329 psychiatrists, 37 gastroenterologists and 925 GPs). Interventions: A 10-page, 46-item survey was distributed by the HIC. The initial survey was sent in March 2003 and sent a subsequent two times to non-responding physicians. Measurements: Characteristics of physicians and their therapeutic preferences in managing patients with nicotine or alcohol dependence. Findings: The majority of physicians identified and provided advice to patients who smoked and consumed alcohol at levels harmful to health. Fourteen percent used a formal alcohol-screening instrument, 4% were familiar with the 5 As' of a smoking cessation strategy and less than a third had undertaken any formal training in providing brief advice. The majority of physicians perceived pharmacotherapies to be an effective treatment strategy and indicated adjuncts improved likelihood of behaviour modification. Predictors of pharmacotherapy prescribing included working in a large clinical practice, having an additional mental health qualification and training in provision of brief advice. Conclusions: Physicians are in a strong position, and are encouraged to, manage additive disorders. Scope exists to improve prescribing of pharmacotherapies for nicotine and alcohol dependence by enhancing appropriate counselling skills and making explicit the nature of a comprehensive treatment regime as an adjunct to medicines.
- Australian general practice