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Supporting Indigenous primary health services to reduce the harms from alcohol

Research Stream
13 Oct 2016
12:15 pm
Ballroom 3

Supporting Indigenous primary health services to reduce the harms from alcohol

A range of treatments can help people with alcohol problems and many of these can be provided in a primary care setting.  Examples include early detection and help, counselling, home detox (for some drinkers) and medicines for relapse prevention. But there are many barriers to working with alcohol problems in primary care services.


We are conducting an NHMRC-funded study to test out an approach for supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (Indigenous) primary health services to do the best work they can with alcohol issues.  This presentation describes the rationale for the study and its design.

Twenty Indigenous primary care services will be recruited.  Services in several states or territories will be invited to take part if they use the practice software called ‘Communicare’. Half the services will be randomly chosen to receive support in improving their services (intervention services). The other 10 services will wait to get this support till the end of the study (wait-control services).

Intervention services will each choose two representatives, e.g. a clinician and a manager. Our research assistant will support the representatives to identify barriers to ‘best practice’ in helping with unhealthy drinking. They will support services to find ways to address these barriers. This may mean changes to practice software, providing staff training and developing/finding resources. Intervention services will share their experiences in service improvement through a monthly teleconference. Each intervention service will also receive regular feedback of data from their practice software on their progress – how often they screen for unhealthy alcohol use and how often they providing advice or treatment for alcohol problems.

Intervention and wait-control services will be compared on how much improvement there is how often they provide screening and treatment. Any service-wide changes in levels of drinking, blood pressure and liver blood tests will also be examined.