Open Access Open Badges Study protocol

An alcohol-focused intervention versus a healthy living intervention for problem drinkers identified in a general hospital setting (ADAPTA): study protocol for a randomized, controlled pilot trial

Judith Watson1*, Gillian Tober2, Duncan Raistrick2, Noreen Mdege1, Veronica Dale1, Helen Crosby2, Christine Godfrey1, Charlie Lloyd1, Paul Toner1, Steve Parrott1 and On behalf of the ARiAS Research Group, NIHR CLAHRC for Leeds, York and Bradford

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Health Sciences, University of York, Heslington, York YO10 5DD, UK

2 Leeds Addiction Unit, 19 Springfield Mount, Leeds LS2 9NG, UK

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Trials 2013, 14:117  doi:10.1186/1745-6215-14-117

Published: 30 April 2013



Alcohol misuse is a major cause of premature mortality and ill health. Although there is a high prevalence of alcohol problems among patients presenting to general hospital, many of these people are not help seekers and do not engage in specialist treatment. Hospital admission is an opportunity to steer people towards specialist treatment, which can reduce health-care utilization and costs to the public sector and produce substantial individual health and social benefits. Alcohol misuse is associated with other lifestyle problems, which are amenable to intervention. It has been suggested that the development of a healthy or balanced lifestyle is potentially beneficial for reducing or abstaining from alcohol use, and relapse prevention. The aim of the study is to test whether or not the offer of a choice of health-related lifestyle interventions is more acceptable, and therefore able to engage more problem drinkers in treatment, than an alcohol-focused intervention.


This is a pragmatic, randomized, controlled, open pilot study in a UK general hospital setting with concurrent economic evaluation and a qualitative component. Potential participants are those admitted to hospital with a diagnosis likely to be responsive to addiction interventions who score equal to or more than 16 on the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT). The main purpose of this pilot study is to evaluate the acceptability of two sorts of interventions (healthy living related versus alcohol focused) to the participants and to assess the components and processes of the design. Qualitative research will be undertaken to explore acceptability and the impact of the approach, assessment, recruitment and intervention on trial participants and non-participants. The effectiveness of the two treatments will be compared at 6 months using AUDIT scores as the primary outcome measure. There will be additional economic, qualitative and secondary outcome measurements.


Development of the study was a collaboration between academics, commissioners and clinicians in general hospital and addiction services, made possible by the Collaboration in Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC) program of research. CLAHRC was a necessary vehicle for overcoming the barriers to answering an important NHS question – how better to engage problem drinkers in a hospital setting.

Trial registration


Alcohol-related hospital admissions; Pilot study; Healthy living; Acceptability; AUDIT; Problem drinkers; Integrated social behavioral network therapy; Economic evaluation; Non-help seekers; Randomized controlled trial