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Tackling alcohol abuse: Wales initiative is a UK first

07 February 2012

Hospital patients with a drink problem are to be identified and offered help through a unique new Cardiff University partnership with the Welsh Government.

People treated in hospital clinics for injury will be asked a series of questions about their drinking. If there is evidence that they misuse alcohol, they will be offered tailor-made support. University research has discovered that this new approach is effective for patients and cost-effective for the NHS.

The enterprise is a Knowledge Transfer Partnership between the Welsh Government, the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and Cardiff University’s Violence and Society Research Group. The University has recruited Dr Paul Jordan to working with Public Health Wales to establish and deliver the new service across the country.

Patients will be asked by clinic nurses to complete a standard questionnaire – the Fast Alcohol Screening Test. If the test flags up a problem, the nurse will talk the patient through their problem, following a psychological approach called FRAMES. The elements are:

  • Feedback – linking in the patient’s mind their injury with their alcohol misuse
  • Responsibility – emphasis that the patient is the only person responsible for their own drinking
  • Advice – dedicated advice for each patient on issues like consumption limits
  • Menu – information about other sources of help and advice
  • Empathy – a sympathetic approach, rather than lecturing the drinker
  • Self-efficacy – emphasising to patients that they can deal with their problem

The scheme draws on the Violence and Society Research Group’s clinical trials of this new approach, delivered by nurses in hospital injury clinics.

Professor Jonathan Shepherd, Director of the Violence and Society Research Group, said: "Alcohol misuse is a major problem in Wales. The death rate is alarming and far too high. The Chief Medical Officer for Wales has identified tackling alcohol misuse as a major priority.

"We know from our own research that most people injured whilst intoxicated are young. Intervening early in a problem drinker’s life can make a real difference.

"Nurses working in injury clinics can be hugely effective in helping patients tackle alcohol misuse. Violence and Society Research Group research shows that this can be done in a practical straightforward way - while the nurse is changing a wound dressing or taking out stitches, for example.

"This is a highly cost-effective measure which over time will make real savings for the NHS. More vitally, it will help provide lasting health benefits for people at risk from their drinking habits and reduce their chances of suffering further injury."

Deputy Chief Medical Officer for Wales, Dr Sara Hayes, said: "Evaluations of brief interventions have consistently shown them to be the most effective approach to reducing problem drinking. This Knowledge Transfer Partnership is supported by Public Health Wales and the delivery of training programmes in secondary care."

Notes to Editors

Cardiff University

Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities. Founded by Royal Charter in 1883, the University today combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. The University’s breadth of expertise in research and research-led teaching encompasses: the humanities; the natural, physical, health, life and social sciences; engineering and technology; preparation for a wide range of professions; and a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning. Cardiff is a member of the Russell Group of Britain’s leading research universities.

The University website is at: .

The Violence and Society Research Group website is at .

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships

KTP – Knowledge Transfer Partnerships – ( is Europe's leading programme helping businesses to improve their competitiveness by enabling companies to work with higher education or research and technology organisations to obtain knowledge, technology or skills which they consider to be of strategic competitive importance. The UK-wide programme is overseen by the Technology Strategy Board (, the UK’s innovation agency, and supported by 16 other public sector funding organisations.

The partnership between Cardiff University and Public Health Wales is set up under the KTP ‘mentored project’ arrangement, whereby the benefiting partner funds the cost of the project itself, and the Knowledge Transfer Partnership scheme provides ongoing-support through the KTP Adviser and training for the KTP Associate. This mechanism is available where the participating organisation may not be eligible to receive grant funding but still has the opportunity to benefit from the KTP model and support.

Economic and Social Research Council

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is the UK's largest organisation for funding research on economic and social issues. It supports independent, high quality research which has an impact on business, the public sector and the third sector. The ESRC’s total budget for 2011/12 is £203 million. At any one time the ESRC supports over 4,000 researchers and postgraduate students in academic institutions and independent research institutes. More at

For further information, please contact:

Professor Jonathan Shepherd

School of Dentistry

Telephone 029 20744215 or 20742442

Mobile 07779 490022


Stephen Rouse

Public Relations Office,

Cardiff University

Telephone: 029 20875596,