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Screening and brief interventions for hazardous alcohol use in accident and emergency departments: A randomised controlled trial protocol

Coulton, Simon; Perryman, Katherine; Bland, Martin; Cassidy, Paul; Crawford, Mike; Deluca, Paolo; Drummond, Colin; Gilvarry, Eilish; Godfrey, Christine; Heather, Nick; Kaner, Eileen; Myles, Judy; Newbury-Birch, Dorothy; Oyefeso, Adenekan; Parrott, Steve; Phillips, Tom; Shenker, Don; Shepherd, Jonathan


Simon Coulton

Katherine Perryman

Martin Bland

Paul Cassidy

Mike Crawford

Paolo Deluca

Colin Drummond

Eilish Gilvarry

Christine Godfrey

Nick Heather

Eileen Kaner

Judy Myles

Dorothy Newbury-Birch

Adenekan Oyefeso

Steve Parrott

Don Shenker

Jonathan Shepherd


Background. There is a wealth of evidence regarding the detrimental impact of excessive alcohol consumption on the physical, psychological and social health of the population. There also exists a substantial evidence base for the efficacy of brief interventions aimed at reducing alcohol consumption across a range of healthcare settings. Primary research conducted in emergency departments has reinforced the current evidence regarding the potential effectiveness and cost-effectiveness. Within this body of evidence there is marked variation in the intensity of brief intervention delivered, from very minimal interventions to more intensive behavioural or lifestyle counselling approaches. Further the majority of primary research has been conducted in single centre and there is little evidence of the wider issues of generalisability and implementation of brief interventions across emergency departments. Methods/design. The study design is a prospective pragmatic factorial cluster randomised controlled trial. Individual Emergency Departments (ED) (n = 9) are randomised with equal probability to a combination of screening tool (M-SASQ vs FAST vs SIPS-PAT) and an intervention (Minimal intervention vs Brief advice vs Brief lifestyle counselling). The primary hypothesis is that brief lifestyle counselling delivered by an Alcohol Health Worker (AHW) is more effective than Brief Advice or a minimal intervention delivered by ED staff. Secondary hypotheses address whether short screening instruments are more acceptable and as efficient as longer screening instruments and the cost-effectiveness of screening and brief interventions in ED. Individual participants will be followed up at 6 and 12 months after consent. The primary outcome measure is performance using a gold-standard screening test (AUDIT). Secondary outcomes include; quantity and frequency of alcohol consumed, alcohol-related problems, motivation to change, health related quality of life and service utilisation. Discussion. This paper presents a protocol for a large multi-centre pragmatic factorial cluster randomised trial to evaluate the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of screening and brief interventions for hazardous alcohol users attending emergency departments. Trial Registration. ISRCTN 93681536. © 2009 Coulton et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date 2009-12
Journal BMC Health Services Research
Print ISSN 1472-6963
Electronic ISSN 1472-6963
Publisher Springer Verlag
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 9
Issue 1
Article Number 114
APA6 Citation Coulton, S., Perryman, K., Bland, M., Cassidy, P., Crawford, M., Deluca, P., …Shepherd, J. (2009). Screening and brief interventions for hazardous alcohol use in accident and emergency departments: A randomised controlled trial protocol. BMC health services research, 9(1),
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Copyright Statement
© Coulton et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2009
This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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