Delivering information and brief advice on alcohol (IBA) in social work and social care settings: an exploratory study

Trish Hafford-Letchfield, Betsy Thom, Rachael Herring, Mariana Bayley

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Social workers and practitioners working in social care are potentially key players in the prevention of alcohol-related harm and harm reduction for people using services and their carers. This requires attention to workforce development alongside the selection of appropriate tools to support prevention strategies. We report findings from a UK exploratory study into the potential of using Identification and Brief Advice (IBA) as a tool for screening and prevention in social work and social care settings. Thirty-six social workers and social care practitioners attended one of two training workshops on IBA in the South East of England. Pre and post-workshop surveys (n = 35 and n = 20, respectively) and four post-workshop focus groups (n = 36) were conducted with participants to explore the application of IBA taking into account the paradigmatic shift towards prevention and holistic approaches indicated in recent UK legislation and policy. Four themes emerged from the findings: (1) perceptions of the social work/social care role in responding to alcohol problems, (2) ethical concerns, (3) time conflicts and the problems of delivering IBA and (4) the role of training. Further studies are needed to evaluate the effectiveness of motivational techniques and tools that social workers can use to promote preventative practise for alcohol-related harm. Different strategies are required to engage and support those working in social care to increase proactive engagement with problematic alcohol use in everyday practise settings.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-49
Number of pages9
JournalDrugs: Education, Prevention, and Policy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jul 2017


  • identification and brief advice
  • prevention
  • social care
  • social work
  • alcohol-related harm


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