Article Text

other Versions

Alcohol: signs of improvement. The 2nd national Emergency Department survey of alcohol identification and intervention activity
  1. Robert Patton,
  2. Pat O'Hara
  1. Addictions Department, Kings College London, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Robert Patton, National Addiction Centre, Kings College London, 4 Windsor Walk, London SE5 8BB, UK; robert.patton{at}


Objectives To conduct a survey of current alcohol identification and brief advice activity in English Emergency Departments, and to compare the results with the previous survey conducted in 2007.

Methodology Cross-sectional survey of all 187 Emergency Departments in England.

Results Significant increases (p<0.001) in the proportion of departments routinely asking about alcohol, using a screening questionnaire, offering help/advice for alcohol problems, and having access to Alcohol Health Workers or Clinical Nurse Specialists. More than half of all departments indicated that they had an ‘alcohol champion’, and this was significantly associated with access to training on both identification and provision of brief advice (p<0.001). Departments that routinely asked questions were the most likely to use a formal screening tool (p<0.05), and the Paddington Alcohol Test was the most frequently used measure (40.5%).

Conclusions There have been significant improvements in ED alcohol identification and brief advice activity since 2007 in line with the recommendations of the Royal College of Physicians, Department of Health and NICE guidelines. English EDs are beginning to maximise the likelihood of identifying patients who may benefit from further help or advice about their alcohol consumption, and are able to offer access to specialist staff who can provide appropriate interventions.

  • Research
  • alcohol abuse

Statistics from


  • Funding This study was funded by a small research grant (£5000) from Alcohol Research UK (SG 11/12170).

  • Competing interests All authors have completed the Unified Competing Interest form at (available on request from the corresponding author) and declare that (1) RP received support from Alcohol Research UK for the submitted work; (2) RP and POH have no relationships with any companies that might have an interest in the submitted work in the previous 3 years; (3) their spouses, partners or children have no financial relationships that may be relevant to the submitted work; and (4) RP and POH have no non-financial interests that may be relevant to the submitted work.

  • Ethics approval No ethical approval was required for this study as it was a Service Evaluation, and this was confirmed in a personal communication from the Chair of the London-Camberwell St Giles Research Ethics Committee (dated 25 Aug 2011).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.