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Addiction Science & Clinical Practice

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Alcohol screening, brief intervention, and stepped care with older alcohol users

  • Ruth McGovern1,
  • Simon Coulton2,
  • Jude Watson3,
  • Martin Bland3,
  • Colin Drummond4,
  • Eileen Kaner1,
  • Christine Godfrey3,
  • Alan Hassey5 and
  • Dorothy Newbury-Birch1
Addiction Science & Clinical Practice20127(Suppl 1):A27

Published: 9 October 2012

The Alcohol Needs Assessment Project estimated that 20% of people aged ≥55 years consume alcohol at levels hazardous to their health, which is associated with a wide range of physical, psychological, and social problems, including coronary heart disease, hypertension, stroke, liver disease, and increased risk of a range of cancers. The Alcohol—Evaluating Stepped Care for Older Populations (AESOPS) research study is a randomized controlled trial looking at the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of an opportunistic screening, brief intervention, and stepped care framework for older hazardous alcohol users in primary care compared with minimal intervention. Opportunistic screening of patients aged ≥55 years was conducted in 53 primary health care practices from eight areas across England. Patients who screened positive for an alcohol use disorder (AUD) were randomly allocated to one of two intervention conditions: brief structured advice (minimal intervention) or stepped care. Approximately 78,260 screening questionnaires were distributed, and 21,524 (27.5%) were returned. Seven-and-a-half percent of respondents screened positive for AUD. Of eligible patients, 51.3% were randomized to stepped care, most (99.6%) of whom received step one (brief lifestyle intervention); 55.1% received step two (brief motivational intervention), and 10.2% were referred to step three (specialist alcohol treatment). Results to date are discussed.

Authors’ Affiliations

Institute of Health and Society, Newcastle University
Center for Health Service Studies, University of Kent
Department of Health Sciences, University of York
National Addiction Center, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London
Fisher Medical Center


© McGovern et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2012

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.