Open Access Open Badges Study protocol

Effectiveness of alcohol brief intervention delivered by community pharmacists: study protocol of a two-arm randomised controlled trial

Ranjita Dhital1*, Ian Norman1, Cate Whittlesea2 and Jim McCambridge3

Author Affiliations

1 King’s College London, Florence Nightingale School of Nursing and Midwifery, 57 Waterloo Road, SE1 8WA, London, UK

2 King's College London, King’s Health Partners, Pharmaceutical Science Clinical Academic Group, Institute of Pharmaceutical Science, Franklin-Wilkins Building, 150 Stamford Street, SE1 9NH, London, UK

3 London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Department of Social and Environmental Health Research, Room 237, 15-17 Tavistock Place, WC1H 9SH, London, UK

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BMC Public Health 2013, 13:152  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-152

Published: 18 February 2013



There is strong evidence to support the effectiveness of Brief Intervention (BI) in reducing alcohol consumption in primary healthcare.

Methods and design

This study is a two-arm randomised controlled trial to determine the effectiveness of BI delivered by community pharmacists in their pharmacies. Eligible and consenting participants (aged 18 years or older) will be randomised in equal numbers to either a BI delivered by 17 community pharmacists or a non-intervention control condition. The intervention will be a brief motivational discussion to support a reduction in alcohol consumption and will take approximately 10 minutes to deliver. Participants randomised to the control arm will be given an alcohol information leaflet with no opportunity for discussion. Study pharmacists will be volunteers who respond to an invitation to participate, sent to all community pharmacists in the London borough of Hammersmith and Fulham. Participating pharmacists will receive 7 hours training on trial procedures and the delivery of BI. Pharmacy support staff will also receive training (4 hours) on how to approach and inform pharmacy customers about the study, with formal trial recruitment undertaken by the pharmacist in a consultation room. At three month follow up, alcohol consumption and related problems will be assessed with the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) administered by telephone.


The UK Department of Health’s stated aim is to involve community pharmacists in the delivery of BI to reduce alcohol harms. This will be the first RCT study to assess the effectiveness of BI delivered by community pharmacists. Given this policy context, it is pragmatic in design.

Trial registration

Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN95216873

Alcohol; Brief intervention; Community pharmacist; Community pharmacy; Hazardous and harmful drinking