Alcohol Use Disorders (43) Q2: Do health workers have adequate knowledge to prevent and manage alcohol use disorders?

11 February, 2024

Dear friends,

Welcome to the second week of the Forum.

We want to thank you for your participation during the first week and we encourage you to continue doing so.

Alcohol use disorders (AUD) are widely prevalent, affecting 5.1% of people worldwide (8.6% among men and 1.7% among women). AUDs are associated with high morbidity and mortality, resulting in a reduction in life expectancy of more than 20 years compared to the population average. (1)

However, literature reviews report that there is ample evidence that patients with AUD generally go undiagnosed and untreated. (2) It has been estimated that in the best case scenario 17.3% would be treated, so there would be a treatment gap of 82.7%. (3)

There would be several reasons or barriers that would explain this situation, including: institutional culture, individual and systemic bias against those with AUD, the poor and insufficient preparation of health professionals at the Primary Care Level, and healthcare infrastructural deficits, especially the separation of medical and behavioral treatment. (2)(4)

Not much information is available on the proportion of healthcare professionals who are trained in the management of AUD. But several studies carried out in Spain revealed that the knowledge of health professionals about addressing alcohol consumption was low, mainly due to a lack of training.

Therefore, although AUD is a highly widespread health problem, there would not be enough properly trained human resources to address the gap between the magnitude of the problem and the treatment offered in different countries.

Added to this is that in most countries, the AUD treatment would be in the hands of the few health professionals specialized in addiction medicine or mental health. When in reality, the majority of people with early alcohol-related problems consult primary health care (PHC) doctors, mainly for physical health problems related to this consumption, who have not been properly trained to identify and intervene on AUD patients, and many express a stigma regarding these people.







Therefore, this week we would like to know what you think about:

- Do healthcare workers in your country have adequate knowledge to prevent and intervene in AUD?

- What matters to them?

- How could they be better informed and trained?

We look forward to your comments and contributions.

Kind regards,


Dr. Eduardo Bianco

Director, Addiction Training Program for Health Professionals (ATHP)



HIFA profile: Eduardo Bianco is a medical doctor and Cardiologist, Certified Tobacco Cessation Expert with a Masters in Prevention and Treatment of Addictive Disorders. Currently, he is Chair of the World Heart Federation Tobacco Expert Group. Dr. Biancos research examines tobacco control and cessation, and he is a prominent member of several organizations that address tobacco control in Latin America. Dr. Bianco has worked for 25 years in Uruguay and Latin America to promote and train in smoking cessation treatment and tobacco control policies. He is also the former Regional Coordinator for the Americas of the Framework Convention Alliance and former Technical Director of the MOH Center for International Cooperation for Tobacco. ebianco AT