Comparison of European Clinical Guidelines on the Management of Alcohol Use Disorders

Colin Drummond*, Miriam Hillyard, Marja Leonhardt, Frieder Wurst, Geert Dom, Karl Mann, Jørgen G. Bramness

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Alcohol is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the European region, and tackling the harmful use of alcohol is a public health priority. Most countries in the region have national strategies for treating alcohol use disorders (AUD), but there is significant between-country variation. Objectives: This study aimed to compare clinical guidelines for the management of AUD from countries of the European region and to determine whether countries' relative wealth or quality of their health systems had affected the guidelines. Methods: A survey was conducted of 24 countries. The survey encompassed how AUD clinical guidelines were researched, the range and expertise of contributors, which topics of AUD treatment were included, the definition of a "standard drink"used, and the publishing, funding, endorsement, and dissemination of the guideline. Results: Twenty-one of the 24 countries surveyed had a clinical guideline for AUD. All guidelines were underpinned by a literature review, and psychiatrists were the professional group most commonly involved in producing them. Most of the guidelines covered typical cornerstones of AUD care such as treatment of alcohol dependence, pharmacotherapy for relapse prevention, and detoxification. Definitions of a "standard drink"ranged from 8 to 20 grams of ethanol. Governments or governmental bodies were the main publishers and funders of guidelines, and the vast majority of guidelines were freely available online. There were no statistically significant effects of GDP, GDP per capita, or World Health Organization's World Health Report rankings on whether countries were more likely to have an AUD clinical guideline, to have performed a systematic literature review, or to have involved service users in producing their guideline. Conclusions: The results of this survey reflect widespread good practice in producing AUD clinical guidelines across European countries. Regional research collaborations could offer significant time and cost savings in producing the evidence base from which guidelines are then written.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Addiction Research
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2020


  • Addiction treatment
  • Alcohol use disorders
  • Clinical guidelines


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