Understanding alcohol misuse in the elderly: Practice implications for the Alcohol Liaison Service (ALS)

First published: 10 May 2019 | Last updated: 20 May 2019

Dr Elizabeth Walters


This paper was developed through discussions with a local Alcohol Liaison Service (ALS) which had highlighted an increase in elderly patients being referred for alcohol treatment and the challenges associated with this. It is important to understand the attitudes and experiences of (a) elderly patients who have received ALS intervention and (b) members of ALS teams delivering this service.  In this exploratory study we aim to:

understand how elderly patients experience the ALS service
explore any similarities in experiences, perceptions and general attitudes towards alcohol use
capture best practice in relation to working with elderly patients

Design: Semi structured qualitative telephone interviews were carried out and a thematic analysis allowed for the exploration and capture of experiences

Setting: an ALS in the North of England

Participants – Ten patients aged 60 years of age and older who have received ALS intervention but who are no longer in patients at the time of interview; two ALS nurses delivering alcohol intervention.

Measurements: This is a qualitatively driven project and aims to understand, thematically, older patients’ experiences of alcohol treatment. Some descriptive analysis of drinking patterns and demographics will be included.

Findings and conclusions: The studies main findings were:

All patients spoke positively regarding the intervention received.
Patients consistently expressed the important influence and involvement of their family members throughout their contact with the ALS team.
ALS nurses talked about  the challenging nature of dealing with relatives who are often unaccepting of the alcohol issues their relative is experiencing


Dr Jo Ashby, Department of Psychology, Manchester Metropolitan University

Conflicts of interest:

No conflict of interest

Dr Elizabeth Walters