This is a retrospective study of 173 consecutive admissions to a general psychiatric hospital. The aim was to establish the frequency and adequacy with which alcohol and tobacco use were recorded. Regarding alcohol, in 41% of the notes there was no adequate quantitative history, in 29.5% there was a descriptive mention and in 29.5% no history was recorded. Female patients were less likely to have an alcohol history taken than male patients. With tobacco, in 64% of the notes there was an adequate quantitative history, in 6.4% there was a descriptive comment and in 28.9% no history was recorded. It is to be stressed to all doctors that an assessment of alcohol and tobacco use should be made for every patient, whatever their age, gender or ethnic origin.
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