PHE updated ‘IBA tool’ following new guidelines

6 May

The two sided ‘IBA tool’ appears to have been a popular resource amongst roles delivering IBA, so PHE have released an updated version following the recent change to the recommended guidelines.

Indeed it is easy to see why the tool may have been popular as it neatly includes key ‘components’ of FRAMES based brief advice. Having these prompts and visual aids may take pressure off the practitioner to remember the various things that may be useful to discuss, or perhaps better still, use them as prompts for a drinker to identify things relevant to them. For example:population drinkers England

  • ‘Feedback’ – the tool has several sections that may help the drinker understand what their level of risk is and what that means. The ‘risk category’ table gives an indication of what that may look like in terms of units, whilst the population graph (right)is thought helpful to highlight most people actually drink at ‘lower risk’ amounts.
  • ‘Advice’ – practitioners should of course be careful here. Rather than giving direct ‘advice’, generally better to ask “could you think of any benefits if you did decide to cut down?”. The tool suggests some ‘common benefits of cutting down’ which can be useful prompts.
  • ‘Menu’ of options (goals or strategies) – as above, best to ask “would any these strategies listed here be useful if you did decide to cut down?”. Easy to assume what works for you will work for them, but important they ‘own’ their responses as much as possible (Responsibility).

Not forgetting of course ’empathy’ and ‘self-efficacy’ as the final FRAMES elements – not on the tool because these are skills we try and embed throughout brief intervention – and probably at other times we are in contact with people. As such the evidence behind FRAMES as central to IBA is often questioned, but in a general sense it may be considered useful as a guiding framework.

What about the tool itself?

It is of course impossible to build the ‘perfect’ one size fits all tool when people and drinking motivations are so varied and complex. This is why the tool should just be an aid to facilitating person-centred IBA, rather than the focus.

Interestingly, PHE have done away with the old ‘large white wine’ with 3 units on the side. This is  a good move as people frequently commented on the drink’s visual appeal. Indeed a ‘priming’ effect has been found in studies and is one of the reason why ‘responsible drinking messages’ with pictures of alcohol are controversial. Weren’t thinking about wanting a drink? Perhaps you are now you’ve seen one!

It’s replacement though is the new ‘One You’ campaign promoting healthier living in general. I’m not quite sure on how I feel about this yet, although I do agree alcohol brief interventions need to be considered as part of wider health behaviour initiatives.

One thing that could still probably do with updating is the unit examples. ‘This is one unit’ contains some rather dubious examples – when was the last time anyone was served a 125 ml glass of wine at only 9% ABV? Certainly far less often than a 250 ml 14% one, registering at a considerable 3.5 units.

However these finer points may not be that important when considering the likely impact. We know ‘identification’ and ‘feedback’ are most likely to be the critical ‘active’ elements of IBA, complimented by conversations that feel helpful and supportive to the drinker. Such resources are probably more important for nudging and helping practitioners to start these valuable conversations.

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