• The alcohol multiplier’ - doctors double the number of alcohol units patients say they consume to get a more accurate figure for their alcohol consumption
  • Doctors believe only 40 per cent of patients are honest about their drinking
  • A fifth of Brits (20 per cent) never keep track of how much they drink

New research from Direct Line Life Insurance1 reveals doctors apply an ‘alcohol multiplier’ when asking patients about their drinking habits. With doctors doubling the average amount of alcohol patients say they drink, to get a more accurate figure. In fact, doctors believe only 40 per cent of patients accurately represent how much alcohol they consume, with young women (aged up to 30) most likely to underestimate their intake.

When Brits were asked why they lied to medical professionals about their alcohol consumption excuses included; never keeping track of how much they drink (20 per cent) and claiming everyone misrepresents how much they consume (16 per cent). One in seven (14 per cent) Brits didn’t tell the truth about their consumption because they didn’t feel it was relevant and the same number were worried their doctor would judge them.

One in five2 (20 per cent) Brits admit they regularly exceed the UK Chief Medical Officers’ recommended maximum consumption of 14 units (CMO) per week. This is mainly because almost a third (32 per cent) of Brits has no idea the maximum number of units of alcohol the UK Chief Medical Officer recommends adults consume in a single week.

Table one: Why Brits misrepresent the units of alcohol they drink to medical professionals

Reason given Percentage of those that
misrepresent their alcohol
consumption for this reason
I never keep track of how much I drink 20 per cent
Everyone misrepresents how much they drink 16 per cent
I didn’t think it was relevant 14 per cent
I was afraid my doctor would judge me 14 per cent
I was surprised by the amount I drink when I worked it out,
so I revised it down in line with the recommended
11 per cent
I was concerned the doctor would attribute the problem I
came in for to alcohol
10 per cent
I was embarrassed about how much I drink 9 per cent

Source: Direct Line Life Insurance

Jane Morgan, Business Manager at Direct Line Life Insurance, commented: “Most of us enjoy a drink from time to time, but no matter how much alcohol you consume it’s important to be honest with your doctor about it. Without all the correct information about your lifestyle you may not get the right diagnosis or treatment.”

“You should not only ensure you are honest with all medical professionals but if you’re asked about how much you drink when purchasing a health or life insurance policy it’s important to be truthful on your application. So you can ensure you have the cover that’s right for you.”

Worryingly, doctors believe a quarter (25 per cent) of their patients exhibit symptoms of low level alcohol dependency, while 21 per cent display symptoms of high dependency. In consultations, doctors advise almost a third (31 per cent) of their patients to reduce the amount of alcohol they drink. However, the majority (63 per cent) of drinkers have no plans to reduce their intake; meaning millions of Brits are risking liver disease, pancreatitis and other alcohol related conditions.

The NHS recommends a GP visit is a good place to start if someone is concerned about their relationship with alcohol. To find local alcohol support groups people can visit https://www.nhs.uk/service-search/Alcohol-addiction/LocationSearch/1805

Morgan continues: “Direct Line Life Insurance offers an affordable way for families to help look after loved ones financially if someone passes away, paying out a lump sum, to help deal with every day money concerns such as household bills, childcare costs and mortgage payments.”

For more information on life insurance, please visit: https://www.directline.com/life-cover/what-is-life-insurance

Notes to Editors

1 Research conducted by PureProfile among 191 doctors (of which 96 percent are general practitioners) between 28th May and 1st June 2018

2 Research conducted by Opinium among a nationally representative sample of 2,008 adults between 8th and 12th June 2018

For further information please contact:

Claire Jarrett
PR Manager
Direct Line Group
Tel: 01651 832 411
Email: claire.jarrett@directlinegroup.co.uk

Katie Ormrod
Citigate Dewe Rogerson
Tel: 0207 282 1023
Email: katie.ormrod@citigatedewerogerson.com

Direct Line

Started in 1985, Direct Line became the first UK insurance company to use the telephone as its main channel of communication. It provides motor, home, travel, pet and life insurance cover direct to customers by phone or on-line.

Direct Line life insurance policies are underwritten by Legal & General, registered office: One Coleman Street, London EC2R 5AA. Legal & General Assurance Society Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority under number 117659. You can check the FCA register at www.fca.org.uk/register or call the FCA on 0800 111 6768 . Legal & General will introduce customers who select the Funeral Benefit Option to Dignity Funeral Services, who are members of the National Association of Funeral Directors.

Customers can find out more about Direct Line products or get a quote by calling 0800 145 5522 or visiting www.directline.com/life-cover