Screening and Intervention Practices for Alcohol Use by Pregnant Women and Women of Childbearing Age: Results of a Canadian Survey

Wendy Sword RN, PhD, Courtney Green PhD, MSc, NooriAkhtar-Danesh PhD, Sarah D.McDonald MD, MSc, Kyla Kaminsky MA, Nicole Roberts MSc, Jocelynn Cook PhD, MBA

Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada



To determine health care providers’ familiarity with and use of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada’s (SOGC’s) 2010 Alcohol Use and Pregnancy Consensus Clinical Guidelines, and to identify barriers and enablers that affected guideline uptake.


We conducted an online pan-Canadian survey of midwives, obstetricians, family physicians, and nurses. The survey was divided into five sections: knowledge, SOGC guidelines, screening and intervention practices, attitudes and beliefs, and demographic information.


Just over half of the 588 respondents who provided care to pregnant women or to women of childbearing age were familiar with and used the guidelines. Most respondents screened for alcohol use by asking women about alcohol consumption, but relatively few used a screening questionnaire. Approximately two-thirds of respondents provided brief intervention and referral to harm reduction or treatment services. Enablers of guideline adherence included knowledge about the risks of alcohol in pregnancy, perceived responsibility to identify and address at-risk drinking, and a belief that women are motivated to reduce their alcohol consumption if pregnant or planning to become pregnant. Lack of confidence in ability to use screening questionnaires and to provide brief intervention, as well as a lack of belief in the effectiveness of both practices, were barriers to use.


Strategies are needed to improve familiarity with and uptake of the Alcohol Use and Pregnancy Consensus Clinical Guidelines. Particular attention should be given to education and training regarding the use of validated screening questionnaires and brief intervention practices.

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