Condition category
Mental and Behavioural Disorders
Date applied
Date assigned
Last edited
Prospectively registered
Overall trial status
Recruitment status
No longer recruiting

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

Trial website

Contact information



Primary contact

Dr Elizabeth Murray


Contact details

University College London (UCL)
Research Department of Primary Care & Population Health
Royal Free Hospital
Rowland Hill Street
United Kingdom
+44 (0)20 7794 0500 ext. 36747

Additional identifiers

EudraCT number number

Protocol/serial number


Study information

Scientific title

A randomised controlled trial of work-based online screening and brief intervention for hazardous and harmful drinking



Study hypothesis

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.

Ethics approval

UCL Research Ethics Committee, 11/05/2012, ref: 3770/001

Study design

Online randomised controlled trial with wait-list control group

Primary study design


Secondary study design

Randomised controlled trial

Trial setting


Trial type

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.

Intervention type



Drug names

Primary outcome measures

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


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)

Participant type


Age group




Target number of participants


Participant exclusion criteria

Does not meet inclusion criteria

Recruitment start date


Recruitment end date



Countries of recruitment

United Kingdom

Trial participating centre

University College London
United Kingdom

Sponsor information


University College London (UK)

Sponsor details

c/o David Wilson
Joint Research Office
149 Tottenham Court Road
United Kingdom
+44 (0)20 3447 5199

Sponsor type




Funder type


Funder name

NIHR School for Primary Care Research (UK)

Alternative name(s)

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

Results - basic reporting

Publication summary

2014 results in:

Publication citations

Additional files

Editorial Notes