This is a copy of the presentation made by Professor Maree Teesson at the 2015 NDARC Annual Research Symposium in Session Two.
In Australia, one in five adults consume alcohol at levels that put them at increased risk of harm from alcohol-related disease or injury over their lifetime, yet less than one in five problem drinkers will ever seek help. Interventions based on behavioural change principles have been found to be effective in reducing risky drinking in primary care settings, particularly for those who have decided to change their drinking. However, less than 10% of the population of risky drinkers are identified, and less than 5% of those who could benefit are offered brief interventions. The most significant barriers are that they are time consuming in the busy general practice setting and that individuals do not seek help for risky alcohol drinking. The need for effective and sustainable interventions is clear. Internet-delivered interventions facilitated by the GP and based on behavioural change and social learning principles provide a potentially innovative solution. Our trial, due to begin in 2016, is the first Australian trial of a GP facilitated Internet-based intervention for risky drinkers in primary care.
In this trial, all participating general practices will be given five computer tablets on which patients can complete the screener (AUDIT-C) questions whilst in the waiting room. Patients identified as risky drinkers will fill in the baseline questionnaire (AUDIT, EQ-5D) on the tablet, before being randomly allocated to: 1) the online condition, or 2) treatment-as-usual. Patients will then be prompted to hand their tablet to their GP when called in to the consultation room. GPs will view the patient screener and randomisation results.
Patients assigned to the online condition will referred by their GP to the online intervention program, Healthier Drinking Choices, which they can access from home.
Early pilot data collected in South Australia has demonstrated the acceptability of the online intervention in Australia. In this pilot to date, 47 people have been approached, 17/47 have been assessed and 4/17 were identified as positive for risky drinking on the AUDIT-C and randomised to treatment or control. The pilot has indicated consumer acceptability of the Healthier Drinking Choices program.
This presentation presents findings from the pilot studies across South Australia and New South Wales and detail the large-scale RCT due to begin in 2016.