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Comprehensive calculations from Australia offer clues to what in countries like the UK would make the biggest dent in alcohol-related harm at the lowest cost; top of the list were alcohol tax rises, advertising bans, licensing controls, and random breath testing.
STUDY 2005 PDF file 113Kb
Lasting benefits nine years after a brief alcohol intervention
A unique study from Norway discerned lasting benefits from a brief alcohol intervention nine years after risky drinkers had been identified during mass screening for heart disease and other medical risk factors.
REVIEW 2008 HTM file
Alcohol misuse: tackling the UK epidemic
Report from Britain's trade union and professional association for doctors reviewing the extent and consequences of problem drinking in the UK and making recommendations for government action and evidence-based policies.
Just a few minutes with specially hired screening and intervention staff can make a difference to emergency patients' drinking, but in the real world the hospital's own staff will usually do this work. A US study tested this real-world scenario and still found (modest) drinking reductions.
This huge US study set out to test whether widespread screening and brief intervention for illegal drug use (not just heavy drinking) could be implemented in a variety of general medical settings and whether it was effective. Both tests seem to have been passed, but with some important caveats.
STUDY 2008 HTM file
Reducing alcohol harm: health services in England for alcohol misuse
Official audit of work by the Department of Health and NHS to address the health effects of alcohol misuse. Describes a system whose infrastructure is clearly inadequate compared to the size of the task, but one recently taking steps in the right direction.
In this comprehensive analysis, screening for risky drinking and brief advice was estimated to be among the most cost-effective preventive services GPs could offer, ranking alongside common interventions such as screening for high blood pressure or immunisation against influenza.
Having mandated universal screening for alcohol problems, the US health system for ex military personnel here thoughtfully addresses how to measure the degree to which this led to appropriate implementation of brief interventions.
OFFCUT 2004 PDF file 89Kb
Controversy over screening primary care patients for risky drinking
Just when a World Health Organisation project was seeking to persuade GPs to screen primary care patients for risky drinking, this hotly contested study concluded that universal screening was an ineffective use of health care resources.
Negative findings from a Danish attempt to implement the primary care screening and brief intervention protocol for heavy drinkers which emerged from World Health Organization trials suggest it was right for the UK to turn away from universal screening.
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