Alcohol is one of the major problems that threaten public health systems.

Primary health care providers have been charged with the responsibility of identifying and intervening with patients whose drinking is hazardous or harmful to their health.

Screening and brief intervention for alcohol consumption among patients in primary health care provides an opportunity to educate patients about the risks of hazardous and harmful alcohol use. There is a strong evidence base for the efficacy, cost effectiveness and utility of health promotion interventions for hazardous and harmful alcohol consumption in primary health care settings. However, many primary care health workers are reluctant to screen and advise patients in relation to alcohol use and among the reasons most often cited are lack of time, inadequate training, fear of antagonizing patients, the perceived incompatibility of alcohol brief intervention with primary health care, and the belief that those who are dependent on alcohol do not respond to interventions. The challenge is to integrate these interventions into professionals’ daily clinical work so that they will be available to those who need them in the context of a larger Europe.

Phepa, the Primary Health Care European Project on Alcohol , is a European Platform of professionals and institutions from 24 EU countries that joined together to achieve consensus in the field, to develop useful products and to provide through this website information and resources for professionals across the EU who want to know more about the management of alcohol problems in primary health care settings.

The 24 countries that constitute  the PHEPA European Platform are: Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, England, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Latvia, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden and Turkey. The platform also includes EUROPREV.

The PHEPA platform is currently leading the EC project called “Project on disseminating brief interventions on alcohol problems Europe wide” (PHEPA II) that provides continuation to the work done in the PHASE I.

The platform aims to support the European Commission and the European Member States in the implementation of effective policy to reduce the harm done by alcohol, in line with the Council Conclusions of 5th  June 2001 on a Community strategy to reduce alcohol-related harm, reiterated by the Council Conclusions on alcohol and young people of 2nd  June 2004.

After achieving the publication of the Clinical Guidelines on best practice for health care purchasers and providers and the Training Programme for Primary Health care professionals, the general objective of the project is to promote the dissemination of best practice on early identification and brief interventions on alcohol problems within the general population.

The specific objectives of the PHEPA II project are:

  • To create a sustained European Platform of health professionals and brief interventions with representation in all partner countries;
  • To develop an assessment tool and a registry to assess and document the current status of services for brief interventions in all partner countries;
  • To build an Internet based resource centre for health professionals, policy makers and providers, on brief interventions;
  • To roll out develop a training programme throughout Member States to harmonize the skills of European health professionals; and
  • To roll out develop clinical guidelines throughout Member States to harmonize the quality of brief interventions.