International Journal of Clinical Pharmacy

, Volume 35, Issue 6, pp 1178–1187 | Cite as

Alcohol brief intervention in community pharmacies: a feasibility study of outcomes and customer experiences

  • Natasha S. Khan
  • Ian J. Norman
  • Ranjita Dhital
  • Paul McCrone
  • Peter Milligan
  • Cate M. WhittleseaEmail author
Research Article


Background Studies indicate that community pharmacy-based alcohol brief intervention (BI) is feasible. However, few studies report significant reductions in post-BI alcohol consumption and customer experience. Cost-effectiveness has not been previously examined. Objectives This 5 month study adopted a single group pre- and post-experimental design to: (1) assess uptake of the community pharmacy alcohol BI service; (2) establish post-BI changes in alcohol consumption for hazardous drinkers; (3) report the acceptability of the service to customers who received it; and (4) undertake a preliminary economic evaluation of the service through establishing whether pharmacy-based alcohol BI affected health and social care costs, including lost employment costs, and whether it was cost-effective. Setting 26 community pharmacies in south London, UK. Method Trained pharmacists used the AUDIT-C and a retrospective 7-day Drinking Diary to identify risky drinkers and inform feedback and advice. Harmful drinkers were referred to their general practitioner and/or specialist alcohol services. A confidential service feedback questionnaire was completed by alcohol BI recipients. Baseline and 3-month follow-up telephone interviews were conducted with hazardous and low risk drinkers to assess post-BI alcohol use change and service cost-effectiveness. Main outcome measures AUDIT-C, 7-day alcohol unit consumption, drinking days, cost utilisation data. Results Of the 663 eligible customers offered alcohol BI, 141 (21 %) took up the service. Three-quarters of customers were identified as risky drinkers. Follow-up interviews were conducted with 61 hazardous/low risk drinkers (response rate = 58 %). Hazardous drinkers were found to significantly reduce their 7-day alcohol unit consumption and drinking days, but not AUDIT-C scores. The majority of harmful drinkers (91 %, n = 10) who were contactable post-BI had accessed further alcohol related services. Customer feedback was generally positive. Over 75 % of customers would recommend the service to others. The cost of delivering the service was estimated to be £134. The difference in service costs pre-BI and post-BI was not statistically significant and remained non-significant when calculated on 500 customers receiving the intervention. Conclusion Community pharmacy-based alcohol BI is a low cost service that may not have immediate beneficial impact on health and social service use, but can be effective in reducing drinking in hazardous drinkers.


Alcohol Brief intervention Community pharmacy Cost-effectiveness Hazardous drinking Screening United Kingdom 



We thank the pharmacists, support staff and service users who contributed to this study and Dr Abu Mohiddin, NHS Lambeth, Public Health Directorate, Dr Karen Rosenbloom, King’s College London, Institute of Pharmaceutical Science and the King’s College London & Lambeth PCT Brief Intervention Service in Community Pharmacy Settings Steering Group for their input into the service evaluation design.


This service evaluation was funded by a New Services and Innovations in Healthcare grant by the Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity.

Conflicts of interest



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Copyright information

© Koninklijke Nederlandse Maatschappij ter bevordering der Pharmacie 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Natasha S. Khan
    • 1
  • Ian J. Norman
    • 2
  • Ranjita Dhital
    • 2
  • Paul McCrone
    • 3
  • Peter Milligan
    • 4
  • Cate M. Whittlesea
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.King’s Health Partners, Pharmaceutical Science Clinical Academic Group, Institute of Pharmaceutical ScienceKing’s College LondonLondonUK
  2. 2.Florence Nightingale School of Nursing and MidwiferyKing’s College LondonLondonUK
  3. 3.Department of Health Service and Population Research, Institute of PsychiatryKing’s College LondonLondonUK
  4. 4.School of Biomedical SciencesKing’s College LondonLondonUK

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