Nurses in Wales are to be trained to talk to binge drinkers about the consequences of their behaviour as part of routine practice.
An initiative, called “Have a Word”, was unveiled last week to try and stem the increase in hospital admissions resulting from alcohol-related injuries and illnesses.
Cardiff University has worked with the Welsh government and Public Health Wales to develop the campaign, which is based on the theory that opportunistic brief interventions can be effective in helping people realise they have a problem with alcohol.
All trauma and maxillofacial clinic nurses will be trained to screen patients for alcohol misuse and to deliver brief interventions for those patients identified as drinking at hazardous levels. A two-hour training course had been developed, which has been accredited by the Royal College of Nursing.
The university’s violence and society research group trialed the idea with nurses who were removing stitches caused by alcohol-related injuries. It found being spoken to about drinking led to a quarter of patients reducing the amount of alcohol they consumed in the long term.
Professor Jonathan Shepherd, director of the violence and society research group, described the intervention as a “structured conversation between the patient and the nurse, known to motivate the patient to change their drinking behaviour”.
“The aims are to prompt the patient to recognise the harm which their drinking has caused, especially the wound being treated; to review their drinking; to set themselves drinking limits and to make and act on decisions to reduce their hazardous drinking,” he said.
“The initiative establishes screening and brief interventions as a routine part of nursing practice in Wales,” he added.
The campaign was launched in the Temple of Peace in Cardiff by Lesley Griffiths, minister for health and social services in Wales.
She said: “Every week in Wales, 1,200 hospital admissions are attributed to alcohol. We know the cost to the NHS in Wales and the cost to people’s health is enormous. I am delighted to launch this campaign.”