Home > Delivering alcohol IBA in housing, probation and social work settings: opportunities and constraints.

Thom, Betsy and Herring, Rachel and Bayley, Marianna and Hafford-Letchfield, Trish (2016) Delivering alcohol IBA in housing, probation and social work settings: opportunities and constraints. Middlesex: Alcohol Research UK and Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, Middlesex University.

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Identification and Brief Advice (IBA) has been advocated by health organisations such as NICE to promote and a range of lifestyle health behaviours, for example physical activity and smoking cessation, and to encourage early intervention in risky or problem behaviours, including alcohol use (NICE 2013; 2006). Other related terms are SBI (Screening and Brief Intervention), OBI (Opportunistic Brief Intervention) and ABI (Alcohol Brief Interventions). Typically alcohol IBA includes use of a validated screening tool such as AUDIT - Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test (Babor et al., 2001), followed by brief advice: ‘a short, evidence-based, structured conversation with a patient/service user that seeks in a non-confrontational way to motivate and support the individual to think about and/or plan a change in their behaviour’ (NHS Health Scotland 2011).


As alcohol IBA has been found effective in medical/clinical/specialist settings (Kaner et al., 2007; 2013), there has been a drive to expand its use beyond these contexts into a range of other settings, to encourage wider groups of professionals – such as pharmacists, educationalists, youth workers, social workers and criminal justice professionals to incorporate IBA approaches into their everyday practice. However, whilst there is good evidence for its use and effectiveness within general practice and hospital settings, its acceptability and effectiveness in a wider range of contexts is less clear, and there are continuing problems implementing IBA even within the traditional health care contexts.


As part of a larger study, we conducted three case studies to examine the issues that arise in attempting to introduce and sustain the delivery of IBA into everyday practice in housing, probation and social work contexts.

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