Involvement of general practitioners in managing alcohol problems: A randomized controlled trial of a tailored improvement programme
IQ healthcare, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, Nijmegen, the Netherlands. Addiction
(Impact Factor: 4.74).
02/2012; 107(9):1601-11. DOI: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2012.03868.x
To assess the effect of a tailored multi-faceted improvement programme on general practitioners' (GPs') behaviour towards prevention of hazardous and harmful alcohol consumption. The improvement programme consisted of activities aimed at the GP, organization and patient. Educational training sessions and visits by a facilitator were tailored to the GPs' needs and attitudes.
Cluster randomized controlled trial.
General practices in the Netherlands.
Seventy-seven general practices; 119 GPs participated. Data from 6318 patients were available, of whom 765 (12.1%) were at risk. A total of 1502 patients' electronic medical records were reviewed.
The primary outcome was the number of eligible patients who received screening and advice.
Difficulties in recruiting GPs and in motivating GPs for participation in the tailored parts of the programme impeded optimal implementation of the programme. Although GPs in both groups became more involved after enrolment, this improvement waned during the trial. The quality improvement programme enhanced the initial improvement in behaviour and it tempered waning (intervention group), compared to our control condition, resulting in average improvement rates of 5% (screening) and 2% (advice-giving) at 12-month follow-up (not significant).
A tailored, multi-faceted programme aimed at improving general practitioner management of alcohol consumption in their patients failed to show an effect and proved difficult to implement. There remains little evidence to support the use of such an intensive implementation programme to improve the management of harmful and hazardous alcohol consumption in primary care.
Available from: Jessica R Beatty
- "populations have failed to demonstrate the effectiveness of brief interventions (e.g., Hilbink et al., 2012; Kaner et al., 2013). Such findings may be in part explained by growing evidence that SBIRT approaches are challenging to implement due to the time, training, and commitment they require (Aalto et al., 2005; van Beurden et al., 2012; DePue et al., 2002; Kaner et al., 2013; Yarnall et al., 2003). In prenatal care settings, many obstetricians report obstacles such as insufficient time and limited confidence in addressing alcohol use (Anderson et al., 2010). "
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Although screening and brief intervention (SBI) for unhealthy alcohol use has demonstrated efficacy in some trials, its implementation has been limited. Technology-delivered approaches are a promising alternative, particularly during pregnancy when the importance of alcohol use is amplified. The present trial evaluated the feasibility and acceptability of an interactive, empathic, video-enhanced, and computer-delivered SBI (e-SBI) plus 3 tailored mailings, and estimated intervention effects.Methods
We recruited 48 pregnant women who screened positive for alcohol risk at an urban prenatal care clinic. Participants were randomly assigned to the e-SBI plus mailings or to a control session on infant nutrition, and were re-evaluated during their postpartum hospitalization. The primary outcome was 90-day period prevalence abstinence as measured by timeline follow-back interview.ResultsParticipants rated the intervention as easy to use and helpful (4.7 to 5.0 on a 5-point scale). Blinded follow-up evaluation at childbirth revealed medium-size intervention effects on 90-day period prevalence abstinence (OR = 3.4); similarly, intervention effects on a combined healthy pregnancy outcome variable (live birth, normal birthweight, and no neonatal intensive care unit stay) were also of moderate magnitude in favor of e-SBI participants (OR = 3.3). As expected in this intentionally underpowered pilot trial, these effects were nonsignificant (p = 0.19 and 0.09, respectively).Conclusions
This pilot trial demonstrated the acceptability and preliminary efficacy of e-SBI plus tailored mailings for alcohol use in pregnancy. These findings mirror the promising results of other trials using a similar approach and should be confirmed in a fully powered trial.
Available from: Amy O'Donnell
- "Whilst there have been successive attempts to encourage the routine delivery of brief alcohol interventions in day-to-day practice, most efforts have demonstrated limited success (56–60), and implementation of this form of preventive care remains inconsistent. In the UK, for example, although survey data suggest that GPs see both preventative medicine and alcohol intervention as increasingly high priority public health areas, and they generally view primary health care as an appropriate setting to raise and discuss alcohol issues (61), most do not routinely ask patients about their drinking (62). "
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Robust evidence supports the effectiveness of screening and brief alcohol interventions in primary healthcare. However, lack of understanding about their "active ingredients" and concerns over the extent to which current approaches remain faithful to their original theoretical roots has led some to demand a cautious approach to future roll-out pending further research. Against this background, this paper provides a timely overview of the development of the brief alcohol intervention evidence base to assess the extent to which it has achieved the four key levels of intervention research: efficacy, effectiveness, implementation, and demonstration.
Narrative overview based on (1) the results of a review of systematic reviews and meta-analyses of the effectiveness of brief alcohol intervention in primary healthcare and (2) synthesis of the findings of key additional primary studies on the improvement and evaluation of brief alcohol intervention implementation in routine primary healthcare.
The brief intervention field seems to constitute an almost perfect example of the evaluation of a complex intervention. Early evaluations of screening and brief intervention approaches included more tightly controlled efficacy trials and have been followed by more pragmatic trials of effectiveness in routine clinical practice. Most recently, attention has shifted to dissemination, implementation, and wider-scale roll-out. However, delivery in routine primary health remains inconsistent, with an identified knowledge gap around how to successfully embed brief alcohol intervention approaches in mainstream care, and as yet unanswered questions concerning what specific intervention component prompt the positive changes in alcohol consumption.
Both the efficacy and effectiveness of brief alcohol interventions have been comprehensively demonstrated, and intervention effects seem replicable and stable over time, and across different study contexts. Thus, while unanswered questions remain, given the positive evidence amassed to date, research efforts should maintain a continued focus on promoting sustained implementation of screening and brief alcohol intervention approaches in primary care to ensure that those who might benefit from screening and brief alcohol interventions actually receive such support.
Available from: Nick Heather
- "So, with the main outcome being changes in patient behavior at follow-up, this was a treatment effectiveness trial. In relation to the van Beurden trial  it seems that the null findings were due to the failure of the improvement program to motivate enough GPs to deliver BI, not to the failure of the intervention itself to affect patients’ behavior. It is therefore not relevant to the main issue under discussion – the comparison of effects between efficacy and treatment effectiveness trials. "
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ABSTRACT: Three recent sets of null findings from trials of alcohol brief intervention (BI) have been disappointing to those who wish to see a reduction in alcohol-related harm through the widespread dissemination of BI. Saitz (7) has suggested that these null findings result from a failure to translate the effects of BI seen in efficacy trials, which are thought to contribute mainly to the beneficial effects of BI shown in meta-analyses, to effectiveness trials conducted in real-world clinical practice. The present article aims to: (i) clarify the meaning of the terms "efficacy" and "effectiveness" and other related concepts; (ii) review the method and findings on efficacy-effectiveness measurement in the 2007 Cochrane Review by Kaner and colleagues; and (iii) make suggestions for further research in this area. Conclusions are: 1) to avoid further confusion, terms such as "efficacy trial", "effectiveness trial", "clinical representativeness", etc. should be clearly defined and carefully used; 2) applications of BI to novel settings should begin with foundational research and developmental studies, followed by efficacy trials, and political pressures for quick results from premature effectiveness trials should be resisted; 3) clear criteria are available in the literature to guide progress from efficacy research, through effectiveness research, to dissemination in practice; 4) to properly interpret null findings from effectiveness studies, it is necessary to ensure that interventions are delivered as intended; 5) in future meta-analyses of alcohol BI trials, more attention should be paid to the development and application of a psychometrically robust scale to measure efficacy-effectiveness or clinical representativeness; 6) the null findings under consideration cannot be firmly attributed to a failure to translate effects from efficacy trials to real-world practice, because it is possible that the majority of trials included in meta-analyses on which the evidence for the beneficial effects of alcohol BI was based tended to be effectiveness rather than efficacy trials; and 7) a hypothesis to explain the null findings in question is that they are due to lack of fidelity in the implementation of BI in large, organizationally complex, cluster randomized trials.
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