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A new report, published today, which assesses the feasibility and acceptability which evaluates Alcohol Brief Interventions (ABIs) in youth projects and social work, will help to shape future work with these audiences.  Funded by the Scottish Government, the research was carried out by the University of Stirling and was commissioned by NHS Health Scotland and the Scottish Collaboration for Public Health Research and Policy (SCPHRP).

The delivery of ABIs is a significant component of the Scottish Government Alcohol strategy to combat harmful and hazardous drinking.   ABIs are time-limited interventions that focus on changing drinking behaviour, and research evidence supports their use in primary care.   However gaps remain about their effectiveness in non-NHS or “wider settings.”

Ten projects delivering ABIs in diverse young people and social work settings took part in the study. Twenty seven project managers and 61 young people ranging from 12-23 years were interviewed.   Various drivers for  alcohol interventions were identified, including a desire to address alcohol’s negative impact on young lives, (e.g. the consequences of unprotected sex), a desire to engage with vulnerable young people around crime and anti-social behaviours, and a wish to provide alternative activities, such as sport.  

Dr Garth Reid, Public Health Adviser at NHS Health Scotland said:  

 “We know that ABIs are effective in a number of NHS settings and we know that people have started doing ABIs in other settings but we don’t know whether this is something which should be supported.”

“This study has shown that it is possible to deliver ABIs in these settings. Young people felt the ABI interventions were delivered in a way that was welcoming and safe and at a time and place that was appropriate.”

“The study also found that young people do not always respond positively to form filling and project staff can be reluctant to collect data. This means at the moment it would be difficult to find out whether ABIs in these settings work."

“Another issue which we identified was that there are no suitable ABI screening tools and resources for working with young people.  This reflects the still developing nature of ABI work in these settings and is an area for potential future research and development.”

Minister for Public Health Michael Matheson said:

“We welcome the findings of this research and the contribution it makes to expanding the evidence base for ABI delivery in wider settings.

“There has been excellent progress and sustained delivery of the national ABI programme across Scotland. Over 366,000 ABIs have been delivered to date (1 April 2008 – 31 March 2013) by NHS Scotland to help individuals to cut down on their drinking to within safer guidelines. 

“ABIs are part of our wider strategic approach to tackling alcohol-related harm.  We have made a record investment of £237 million to tackle problem alcohol use since 2008.  Our record investments are helping to fund early intervention services so we can address hazardous or harmful drinking habits before serious health problems, or other problems, develop.”

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