Plain English Summary
Background and study aims
This study aims to determine whether it is feasible to deliver online screening and brief intervention via the workplace, and whether doing so reduces alcohol consumption. The study will determine what proportion of people offered screening accept it, what proportion who accept are drinking above recommended guidelines, what proportion make use of an online intervention to help them drink less and how effective the intervention is amongst those who use it.
Who can participate?
The HOW study aims to recruit 1,840 employees aged 18 and above from a large international organisation, based in the UK.
What does the study involve?
Employees who wish to take part will be asked to complete an online health questionnaire which will takes about 10 minutes. The questionnaire includes questions on height, weight, smoking alcohol intake, diet and physical activity. Participants will receive instantaneous online feedback based on their answers, with information about what they are already doing that's good for their health and what they might want to change. There will also be suggestions on where to get help if needed. Some participants will be contacted again in 3 months' time to complete further questionnaires.
What are the possible benefits and risks of participating?
Participants will receive a personalised health check, together with advice about how to improve their health. This is completely free, and completely confidential. Participants may get a shock if the results of the health check suggest they are at risk of a health problem. If they are worried about their health and feel they need more advice than we can give online, they are advised to go and see their family doctor. The doctor is the person best placed to help with health problems.
Where is the study run from?
The HOW study is based entirely online. It is being conducted by a team of researchers based in the e-Health Unit, at UCL.
When is the study starting and how long is it expected to run for?
Study recruitment is due to begin on 01 August 2012. There is a three week recruitment period, three month trial duration, and three week follow-up period. The study is due to close on the 5th December 2012.
Who is funding the study?
This study has been funded by the NIHR School for Primary Care Research.
Who is the main contact?
Dr Elizabeth Murray
Dr Elizabeth Murray
University College London (UCL)
Research Department of Primary Care & Population Health
Royal Free Hospital
Rowland Hill Street
+44 (0)20 7794 0500 ext. 36747
A randomised controlled trial of work-based online screening and brief intervention for hazardous and harmful drinking
Feedback on alcohol consumption and access to an online intervention will lead to a reduction in drinking, compared with no feedback on drinking in the context of a health check on a range of behaviours.
The null hypothesis is that there will be no difference between groups in their alcohol intake.
UCL Research Ethics Committee, 11/05/2012, ref: 3770/001
Online randomised controlled trial with wait-list control group
Primary study design
Secondary study design
Randomised controlled trial
Quality of life
Patient information sheet
Not available in web format, please use the contact details below to request a patient information sheet
Reducing alcohol misuse
Participants randomised to the intervention group will receive individually tailored feedback on body mass index (BMI), smoking status, diet and physical activity. In addition, they will be informed that the information they provided suggests that they are at increased risk of alcohol-related harm, and advised to reduce the amount they drink. The advice will acknowledge that it can be hard to cut down, and state that further support in achieving this is available from the online intervention, Down Your Drink (DYD), with an embedded hyperlink which participants can click on to be taken directly to DYD. Participants can access the DYD website as often as they wish during the 3 month trial duration.
Primary outcome measure
Past week alcohol consumption, measured by the TOT-AL. This is an online measure of past week alcohol consumption, validated in a UK population.
Secondary outcome measures
1. The number (proportion) of employees completing the online health check
2. The number (proportion) of employees who complete the online health check and score 5 or more on the AUDIT-C
3. The number (proportion) of participants in the intervention group who access DYD at least once
4. Alcohol use disorders, measured by the AUDIT. This will allow comparison of our data with other alcohol trials
5. Health state, measured by the EQ-5D
6. Number of days of sickness absence in past 3 months (self-reported)
7. Number and duration of hospital admissions in past 3 months (self-reported)
8. Costs, staff time and resources required to implement intervention
Overall trial start date
Overall trial end date
Reason abandoned (if study stopped)
Participant inclusion criteria
1. Employees of a large international company aged 18 and over
2. Participants scoring 5 or more on the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT)-C questionnaire (three-item screening tool for alcohol misuse)
Target number of participants
Participant exclusion criteria
Does not meet inclusion criteria
Recruitment start date
Recruitment end date
Countries of recruitment
Trial participating centre
University College London
NIHR School for Primary Care Research (UK)
Funding Body Type
Funding Body Subtype
Results and Publications
Publication and dissemination plan
Not provided at time of registration
Intention to publish date
Participant level data
Not provided at time of registration
Basic results (scientific)
2014 results in: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25409454