Innovative intervention to reduce alcohol harm: online screening for students

Guest blog by Don Shenker, Director, Alcohol Health Network

Alcohol Health Network has been commissioned by Royal Borough Kingston to provide online alcohol screening and advice for Kingston residents and students in an innovative public health intervention to reduce alcohol harm.

The Royal Borough Kingston was one of the first local boroughs worldwide to use an online platform for heavy drinkers when it employed the Down Your Drink website, developed by University College London in 2009. This allowed local residents to log into a local version of Down Your Drink and for GPs to refer patients into it. A public health worker was also available to support residents with use of the online tool and to refer to local treatment services if needed.

Kingston’s public health team have now commissioned AHN to further develop this approach by amplifying the online identification and brief advice (IBA) component, allowing any resident or student to receive and online IBA and to be signposted to local services if needed. Practitioners in health and social care services will also be able to use the online platform for their patients and data monitoring of which groups are using the site as well as referral points will be enhanced.

Kingston hope to encourage as many people as possible to assess their drinking levels and to create more referrals into local services. The ‘e-pathway’ will also map onto existing care pathways for a number of health issues including smoking and obesity.

AHN are developing a student version of the online platform which following a pilot launching in September will sit alongside the main site for Kingston residents. Kingston has a large student population attending Kingston University.

AHN are working with University College London’s E-Health Unit to ensure the site captures the health data Kingston public health team require and to support engagement with GPs and other health professionals.

Kingston’s online alcohol screening site will launch in November 2013.

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