IBA and the wider ‘workforce’ – will it happen?

2 Oct

Wider workforce RSPHEarlier this year the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) generated headlines following a report saying  ‘15 million workers including firemen, hairdressers and postal workers could form part of “wider public health workforce”.’

With the ‘core’ public health workforce totalling only 40,000 people, they are unlikely to be able to deliver widespread health behaviour interventions to much of the population. As such, the report calls for anyone who has “the opportunity or ability to positively impact health and wellbeing through their work” to join the wider public health workforce.

Whilst the media focused on the idea of bar maids and hairdressers giving out health ‘tips’, it’s certainly true that many areas have sought to extend well beyond healthcare for IBA delivery. A recent review into IBA in non-health settings found settings like schools, criminal justice, pharmacies and universities have shown promise in terms of the feasibility of IBA delivery, although most of these wider settings including the workplace still lacked evidence.

Healthy conversations

“Healthy conversations”

Another report from the RSPH, ‘Healthy Conversations and the Allied Health Professionals’, highlights Allied Health Professionals (AHPs) as an auxiliary Public Health workforce of around 170,000, made up of 12 professions including Physiotherapists, Occupational Therapists, paramedics and dietitians.

The AHP workforce certainly seem a realistic workforce for delivering brief interventions than perhaps hairdressers or posties, and indeed some areas have already been seeking to engage AHP roles in IBA. The report itself specifically gives some examples of AHPs delivering alcohol IBA or other support, and also some insights into AHP’s attitudes and experiences.

Of particular note may be the findings on AHP’s confidence to discuss different ‘health conversations’ by topic. This may be of relevance given that barriers to delivering alcohol IBA are often related to patient or practitioner beliefs about alcohol. In some areas ‘Making Every Contact Count’ (MECC) approaches have been adopted to try to facilitate widespread health conversations, but the level of alcohol IBA activity specifically is unclear.

Indeed it seems that when compared to smoking, diet, exercise and weight, AHP’s felt more confident to discuss these than alcohol. However AHPs did feel more confident to discuss alcohol than areas such as dementia, domestic violence or sexual health, though perhaps unsurprising.

Wider workforce RSPH

What does this mean for IBA? We know alcohol brief intervention is effective, and possibly more so than for other health topics. But it may also be that quality alcohol brief interventions may be at risk of getting lost or diluted within the wider ‘healthy conversations’ agenda.

 

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2 Responses to “IBA and the wider ‘workforce’ – will it happen?”

  1. Iain October 5, 2015 at 6:11 pm #

    I think this was a bit fanciful and betrays a lack of understanding of what IBA is and who it works for. Postmen noticing a lot of wine bottles in the bins isnt really it, nor would their intervention be seen as appropriate by them or their clients.

    However I once calculated that if you included line managers, who have a legitimate role in supporting the health of their staff, the potential IBA workforce might be 9m.

    This is when added to health and social care workers.

    • James Morris October 5, 2015 at 9:33 pm #

      Hi Iain. Getting line managers on board would be great, but my sense is they’re one of the hardest ‘groups’ – if not in large part driven by staff’s fears divulging their drinking. As such I think online might generally be best suited to the workplace, alongside OH and wellbeing days.. The Allied Health Professionals seems like a legitimate group – I don’t think many Physiotherapists, Occupational Therapists, paramedics and dietitians have been trained or asked to..?

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