New resource to reduce alcohol stigma

New e-learning programme  developed for NHS healthcare professionals to reduce the stigma faced by patients with alcohol problems.

A package of training materials, including facilitator’s notes, are included in a new e-learning programme, which aims to help health professionals to have a better understanding of alcohol dependency and to improve longer-term outcomes for patients.

The resources will be of interest to health and social care staff who come in to contact with patients with alcohol problems in either: hospital, primary care or community settings.

A new film also complements the e-learning package and uses emotional and thought-provoking real stories voiced by patients to highlight the problems they face.

Access the free Alcohol Stigma e-learning programme here.

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How alcohol industry organisations mislead the public about alcohol and cancer

Alcohol consumption increases the risk of several types of cancer, including several common cancers | Drug and Alcohol Review

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As part of their corporate social responsibility activities, the alcohol industry (AI) disseminates information about alcohol and cancer. We examined the information on this which the AI disseminates to the public through its ‘social aspects and public relations organizations’ and related bodies. The aim of the study was to determine its comprehensiveness and accuracy.

Most of the organisations were found to disseminate misrepresentations of the evidence about the association between alcohol and cancer. Three main industry strategies were identified:

  1.  denial/omission: denying, omitting or disputing the evidence that alcohol consumption increases cancer risk.
  2. distortion: mentioning cancer, but misrepresenting the risk.
  3. distraction: focussing discussion away from the independent effects of alcohol on common cancers. Breast cancer and colorectal cancer appeared to be a particular focus for this misrepresentation.

Full reference: Petticrew, M. et al. (2017) How alcohol industry organisations mislead the public about alcohol and cancer. Drug and Alcohol Review. Published online: 7 Septmeber 2017

Alcohol: applying All Our Health

Evidence and guidance to help healthcare professionals reduce alcohol-related harm | Public Health England

Public Health England have updated their evidence and guidance pages to reflect the correct number of adults drinking at levels that pose risk to their health.

Alcohol-related harm is a major health problem. Reducing alcohol-related harm is one of the key indicators in health improvement.

31% of men and 16% of women in England drink alcohol in a way that presents increasing risk or potential harm to their health and wellbeing. This proportion is higher for the 15 to 64 age group.  The Global Burden of Disease Study 2013 revealed that, in England, alcohol misuse is the biggest risk factor for early death, ill health and disability for those aged 15 to 49 years. For all ages it is the fifth most important.

Up to 17 million working days are lost annually through absences caused by drinking; up to 20 million are lost through loss of employment or reduced employment opportunities.

Public Health England’s alcohol learning resources provides online resources and learning for commissioners, planners and practitioners working to reduce alcohol-related harm.

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Image source: http://www.gov.uk

Read more at Public Health England

Why an online community of practice (CoP) for alcohol harm reduction failed to generate interest amongst public health professionals

This paper explores the reasons why particular online CoP for alcohol harm reduction hosted by the UK Health Forum failed to generate sufficient interest from the group of public health professionals at which it was aimed | Implementation Science

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Improving mechanisms for knowledge translation (KT) and connecting decision-makers to each other and the information and evidence they consider relevant to their work remains a priority for public health. Virtual communities of practices (CoPs) potentially offer an affordable and flexible means of encouraging connection and sharing of evidence, information and learning among the public health community in ways that transgress traditional geographical, professional, institutional and time boundaries. The suitability of online CoPs in public health, however, has rarely been tested.

Quantitative and qualitative data confirm that the target audience had an interest in the kind of information and evidence the CoP was set up to share and generate discussion about, but also that participants considered themselves to already have relatively good access to the information and evidence they needed to inform their work. Qualitative data revealed that the main barriers to using the CoP were a proliferation of information sources meaning that participants preferred to utilise trusted sources that were already established within their daily routines and a lack of time to engage with new online tools that required any significant commitment.

Full reference: Ponsford, R. et al. (2017) Competing for space in an already crowded market: a mixed methods study of why an online community of practice (CoP) for alcohol harm reduction failed to generate interest amongst the group of public health professionals at which it was aimed. Implementation Science. 12:91

People with co-occurring conditions: commission and provide services

Better care for people with co-occurring mental health and alcohol/drug use conditions: A guide for commissioners and service providers | Public Health England

This Public Health England (PHE) guide, developed with the support of NHS England,  should be used by the commissioners and providers of mental health and alcohol and drug treatment services, to inform the commissioning and provision of effective care for people with co-occurring mental health and alcohol/drug use conditions. It also has relevance for all other services that have contact with people with co-occurring conditions, including people experiencing mental health crisis.

The guidance has been co-produced with members of the expert reference group for co-existing substance misuse with mental health issues, and in consultation with experts through experience, service providers, practitioners, commissioners and policy leads.

It aims to support local areas to commission timely and effective responses for people
with co-occurring conditions. It encourages commissioners and service providers to
work together to improve access to services which can reduce harm, improve health
and enhance recovery, enabling services to respond effectively and flexibly to
presenting needs and prevent exclusion.

Full document available via Public Health England

Liver disease financial costs

The financial case for action on Liver disease. Escalating costs of alcohol misuse, obesity and viral hepatitis | The Foundation for Liver Research

This report makes the financial case for concerted preventative action through public health measures to tackle the three main causes of liver disease: alcohol misuse, obesity and viral hepatitis. It summarises the escalating financial costs to the health and care system as well as the wider societal costs related to the three lifestyle-related factors.

Full report: The financial case for action on liver disease

The effect of moderate drinking on brain structure

A new study on BMJ.com, examines the effect of moderate drinking on brain structure. Heavy drinking is known to have a deleterious effect on our brains, and is linked to dementias. However, for sometime it’s been thought that moderate drinking is actually protective.

In this Podcast, Anya Topiwala, clinical lecturer in old age psychiatry at the University of Oxford, discusses the association between alcohol consumption and those structural elements.

Reference to the research: Topiwala, A et al. Moderate alcohol consumption as risk factor for adverse brain outcomes and cognitive decline: longitudinal cohort study. BMJ 2017; 357 (Published 06 June 2017)