The undertreatment of alcohol-related liver diseases among people with alcohol use disorder

E. Scafato, F. Caputo, V. Patussi, P. Balbinot, G. Addolorato, G. Testino

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Harmful and hazardous alcohol consumption is one of the most significant public health problems in Italy and Europe. Habitual excessive consumption and occasional excessive consumption, known as binge drinking, are the two main risk behaviours related to alcohol. Harmful drinking and alcohol dependence have strong social repercussions in terms of their social and economic impact and contribution to productivity losses. In addition, the terms alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence have been recently substituted by the only term of alcohol use disorder (AUD). The issues presented in this review demonstrate that excessive alcohol consumption is a growing public health concern and an appropriate national action plan is needed to increase the prevention of harmful and hazardous consumption and encourage patients to seek healthcare. To date, the main problem is the under-treatment of the population at risk, manifested as the time-lag between the onset of AUD and the first clinical detection. In order to address this, the Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) strategy has been shared across countries in Europe and is supported by a Systematic Review of Reviews on SBIRT in primary healthcare. Unfortunately, there are still obstacles in the implementation of this approach. The main problem would appear to be general practitioners’ difficulty in carrying out accurate and widespread screening, because they may minimize the problem. A more concerted effort in the training of healthcare professionals could address this by enabling the creation of renewed networks for the early identification of harmful and hazardous drinkers. These networks could prevent the occurrence of avoidable alcohol-related conditions, such as alcohol-related liver disease (ALD), while allowing for the timely implementation of evidence-based brief interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)974-982
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2020


  • Alcohol use disorder
  • Alcohol-related liver disease
  • Undertreatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)

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