‘IBA Direct’ – new opportunities for brief intervention?

20 May

IBA directIn London a piece of work has been underway seeking to design and deliver interventions to ‘at-risk’ drinkers who are unlikely to come into contact with a health care professional. Young ‘twenty-somethings’ are less likely to visit their GP, but more likely to drink heavily when they do drink. So how else can these drinkers be reached?

We know ‘responsible drinking’ messages alone are unlikely to be effective, particularly when we consider the environment and all those alcohol cues. We also know IBA is effective, particularly in Primary Care, but serious questions remain over actual delivery, even for the minority that do receive it. But what about cutting out the middle man and taking IBA straight to the target group?

This was the idea behind ‘IBA direct’. Resonant, an agency who specialise in behaviour change, went out and found local twenty-somethings drinking at risky levels and worked with them to co-create how they could be reached in an effective way. Young risky drinkers said they were more than happy, in fact actually liked doing the ‘alcohol quiz’ – i.e the AUDIT. They found it interesting and it made them think, especially when they knew it was credible rather than just a magazine style quiz.  Perhaps surprisingly they actually liked a person offering them ‘feedback’ and ‘advice’, rather than a less personalised web approach.

The real challenge is how to reach significant numbers of these drinkers with ‘IBA direct’, and whether it can be done cost-effectively. The drinkers themselves identified that it needed to be engaging, part of something that would grab their attention and hook them in. As you would also expect, it also need to avoid being presented as something that would make them feel judged or lectured.

chuggerPerhaps one way of delivering ‘IBA direct’ can akin to ‘chugging’ – aka those ‘charity muggers’, except not going after anyone’s money. In fact they are offering a person something that might them make a healthier, informed choice about something they didn’t realise carried so many risks (or benefits from cutting down). Perhaps there are many opportunities where we can engage the public directly through IBA, rather than relying on busy practitioners.

In some ways ‘IBA direct’ is also not entirely new. If you’ve invited someone to do IBA at a community event, for instance during Alcohol Awareness Week, that’s IBA direct. Apps or web-based approaches could also be argued to be, but IBA in its true form is delivered by a person. The question is, how cost-effective is it going to be, and what’s the best way to really hook people in? Work is under-way to test this out, so watch this space!

IBA direct summary

You can read more about Resonant’s work with Lambeth 20-somethings via IBA direct (pdf) or get in touch here.

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