Cardiff campaign to cut binge drinking to be piloted across England

22 December 2014

Have a word launch

A campaign developed in Wales that cuts binge drinking and alcohol-related injuries is to be piloted across England.

The 'Have a Word' programme trains nurses and other health professionals to spot patients who misuse alcohol and intervene with helpful and effective advice to tackle their behaviour.

"Have a Word" is a campaign which motivates health professionals to offer health advice at times when patients are most receptive.

Led by award-winning researcher Professor Jonathan Shepherd, it was developed by a knowledge transfer partnership between Cardiff University, Welsh Government and Public Health Wales.

"Have a Word" was launched by the Wales health minister, Leslie Griffiths AM, in 2013 after trials by Cardiff University's Violence and Society Research Group showed that advice given in precise ways by nurses, capitalising on "teachable moments" in people's lives such as when stitches are being removed, cut binge drinking.

Since then, some 7,500 health professionals in Wales have been trained to 'Have a Word' by Public Health Wales.

Now, the scheme is to be adopted by Public Health England and trialled across several English regions. Health professionals in England will receive training in 'Have a Word' methods.

Professor Jonathan Shepherd, Director of the Violence and Society Research Group and Professor of Oral and Maxillofacial surgery at Cardiff University's School of Dentistry, said: "Public Health England's decision to adopt 'Have a Word' is another example of Cardiff University leading the way with innovative research that has the power to change lives.

"The 'Have a Word' campaign is based on a structured conversation between the patient and the health professional, known to motivate patients to change their drinking behaviour. The aims are to prompt the patient to recognise the harm which their drinking has caused, for example the wound being treated; to review their drinking; to set themselves drinking limits and to make and act on decisions to reduce their hazardous drinking."

The Welsh Government estimates that every week in Wales, 1,200 hospital admissions are attributed to alcohol.