Alcohol brief interventions: where next for IBA

16 November 2015

Key findings

This briefing paper produced by the Alcohol Academy warns that unless decisive and coordinated action is taken the effectiveness of the UK’s current approach to alcohol brief interventions will wane, hampering the programme’s ability to deliver important benefits to those at risk from harmful levels of drinking.

  • Despite significant attention to the issue in recent years, the current national position of IBA delivery still requires significant investment to achieve success.
  • Some basic level issues still remain, including an understanding of what brief intervention actually involves, and the role or not of specialist services.
  • Issues still exist over Primary Care as the key setting, particularly in identifying both the quantity and quality of IBA reportedly taking place, and the impact of the recent removal of the Patient Participation Directed Enhanced Service (DES) incentive.
  • Indications that minimal or ‘lite’ approaches to IBA delivery may be becoming the norm need careful consideration given the limited evidence for these.
  • Other key questions include which further settings IBA should be undertaken in, and the precise role of innovative and digital in IBA approaches.
  • The current IBA agenda may have reached a ‘turning point’ – if further efforts to embed IBA are not continued, longer term implementation may fail.
  • Policy-makers, commissioners, academics and potential deliverers of IBA all have crucial roles to play – and must work in a concerted and coordinated way to deliver real benefits to those at risk.