Reducing the costs of binge drinking and drink-related injuries across Wales.
Two Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP) between Cardiff University's Violence Research Group (VRG), Welsh Government and Public Health Wales have led to wide implementation in the NHS in Wales of an effective and cost effective treatment of alcohol misuse.
NHS Wales spends £70-£80M a year on health problems caused by alcohol misuse. Randomised trials of psychological treatments ("brief interventions") carried out by the VRG in injury clinics and other settings demonstrated that screening for risky drinking combined with this approach was both practical and effective. Our studies have shown that a brief intervention works best at a "teachable moment" in a drinker's life and that nurses are well placed to deliver these because of their rapport with patients. Since brief interventions can be opportunistic and incorporated into routine clinical work without the need for additional clinical resources, they are also cost effective.
Led by award-winning researcher Professor Jonathan Shepherd, a training programme in how health professionals deliver brief interventions was initially developed and aimed at nurses via a short KTP project. The unique partnership brought together public health practitioners, academic experts and policy analysts, which is a unique combination for a KTP.
However, a challenge the initial partnership faced was that whilst such brief interventions are known to be effective, they are difficult to embed in the NHS and in health services in other countries.Therefore, as part of a follow on classic KTP project, the team worked together to implement the 'Have a Word' brief interventions model on a wider scale, with practical training of a larger range of health and other professionals across NHS Wales.
Have a Word
In 2013, as a direct result of the two KTPs, the VRG approach was formally adopted by Public Health Wales and by autumn 2014, 7,500 professionals had been trained by the Have a Word training team.
Launched by Lesley Griffiths AM, the innovative campaign's aim is to encourage health practitioners to deliver the interventions as part of their routine conversations to individuals identified as drinking at hazardous and harmful levels. In addition to this in March 2015 Public Health Wales launched 'One Drink One Click' – a new mobile application to help people monitor their alcohol consumption which can be used as a resource during the delivery of the brief interventions.
Such was its success in Wales, the scheme is to be adopted by Public Health England and trialled across several English regions with health professionals across England to receive training in the 'Have a Word' methods.