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HOT TOPIC 2017 HTM file
‘My GP says I drink too much’: screening and brief intervention

One of our hot topics – important issues which sometimes generate heated debate. In the absence of more or less inescapable impediments to heavy drinking like ramping up the price of cheap alcohol, widespread screening and brief advice have been the great hope for drink-related public health improvements. Patchy effectiveness and poor implementation have led that ambition to be questioned.

STUDY 2006 HTM file
Effectiveness of nurse-led brief alcohol intervention: A cluster randomized controlled trial

Interventions delivered by nurses did lead to a reduction in excessive drinking in their patients, but there seemed to be no advantage of a structured brief intervention over standard advice.

REVIEW 2012 HTM file
Behavioral counseling after screening for alcohol misuse in primary care: a systematic review and meta-analysis for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force

Amalgamated findings from studies of risky drinkers identified and counselled in primary care settings indicate that compared to screening and assessment only, brief counselling lead to greater reductions in drinking, gains reflected less strongly in some indicators of health. However, it is unclear whether the generally small impacts would be sustained in routine practice.

REVIEW 2009 HTM file
The effectiveness of brief alcohol interventions in primary care settings: a systematic review

Combining findings from randomised trials confirmed that brief advice to risky drinking primary care patients can reduce drinking; now the issue is whether in normal practice those benefits will be realised on a grand enough scale to create public health gains.

STUDY 2016 HTM file
Screening for underage drinking and Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition alcohol use disorder in rural primary care practice

A US study of young people in rural primary care settings finds that alcohol use disorders can be identified with a single question about frequency of drinking.

STUDY 2016 HTM file
Monitoring and evaluating Scotland’s alcohol strategy: Final annual report

The final report evaluating Scotland’s alcohol strategy concludes that while some evidence-based interventions have been implemented, failure to implement minimum unit pricing is likely to have limited the strategy’s contribution to declines in both alcohol consumption and related harm.

REVIEW 2008 HTM file
Meta-analysis: Are 3 questions enough to detect unhealthy alcohol use?

Both AUDIT and AUDIT-C are known to accurately detect unhealthy drinking, but is one more accurate than the other? This paper looks for answers in 14 studies from across Europe and in the United States.

STUDY 2015 HTM file
Four nations: How evidence-based are alcohol policies and programmes across the UK?

Approaches to alcohol policy differ widely across the UK. Scottish policy appears to be most closely aligned with evidence-based recommendations, framing alcohol as a whole population issue, in contrast with UK government policy which is influenced to a greater extent by prevailing beliefs about personal responsibility for alcohol issues.

STUDY 2014 HTM file
An early evaluation of implementation of brief intervention for unhealthy alcohol use in the US Veterans Health Administration

Evaluated across an entire region, a determined effort to implement alcohol screening and brief intervention in the US health system for ex-military personnel led to no significant reductions in drinking – results seen as a prime example of the disappointing impacts of alcohol brief interventions in real-world conditions.

REVIEW 2015 HTM file
Prevention of addictive behaviours

Based largely on existing reviews, this report for the German Federal Centre for Health Education comprehensively assesses substance use prevention approaches. Among its many conclusions are that approaches based solely on information provision are ineffective, in contrast to the more positive evidence for lifeskills and multi-component community programmes.


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