Open Access Study protocol

Study Protocol: Screening and Treatment of Alcohol-Related Trauma (START) – a randomised controlled trial

Rama Jayaraj12*, Mahiban Thomas3, David Kavanagh4, Peter d’Abbs1, Luke Mayo1, Valerie Thomson1, Carolyn Griffin1 and Tricia Nagel1

Author Affiliations

1 Wellbeing and Preventable Chronic Diseases Division, Menzies School of Health Research and School of Environmental and Life Sciences, Charles Darwin University, Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia

2 School of Environmental and Life Sciences, Charles Darwin University, Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia

3 Department of Head and Neck Surgery, Royal Darwin Hospital, Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia

4 Institute of Health & Biomedical Innovation and School of Psychology and Counselling, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia

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BMC Health Services Research 2012, 12:371  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-12-371

Published: 29 October 2012



The incidence of mandibular fractures in the Northern Territory of Australia is very high, especially among Indigenous people. Alcohol intoxication is implicated in the majority of facial injuries, and substance use is therefore an important target for secondary prevention. The current study tests the efficacy of a brief therapy, Motivational Care Planning, in improving wellbeing and substance misuse in youth and adults hospitalised with alcohol-related facial trauma.

Methods and design

The study is a randomised controlled trial with 6 months of follow-up, to examine the effectiveness of a brief and culturally adapted intervention in improving outcomes for trauma patients with at-risk drinking admitted to the Royal Darwin Hospital maxillofacial surgery unit. Potential participants are identified using AUDIT-C questionnaire. Eligible participants are randomised to either Motivational Care Planning (MCP) or Treatment as Usual (TAU). The outcome measures will include quantity and frequency of alcohol and other substance use by Timeline Followback. The recruitment target is 154 participants, which with 20% dropout, is hoped to provide 124 people receiving treatment and follow-up.


This project introduces screening and brief interventions for high-risk drinkers admitted to the hospital with facial trauma. It introduces a practical approach to integrating brief interventions in the hospital setting, and has potential to demonstrate significant benefits for at-risk drinkers with facial trauma.

Trial Registration

The trial has been registered in Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ANZCTR) and Trial Registration: ACTRN12611000135910.

Facial trauma; Indigenous Australians or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders; Alcohol related injury; Culturally appropriate intervention