A pilot feasibility trial of alcohol screening and brief intervention in the police custody setting (ACCEPT): study protocol for a cluster randomised controlled trial

Randomised Control Trial Status


Trial Hypothesis

​That it is possible to recruit and retain a sufficient number of arrestees in police custody suites at 12 months, and demonstrate acceptability of study process, to then indicate that a definitive trial is feasible in due course. The definitive trial hypothesis would be that brief alcohol interventions will lead to reduced drinking outcomes and also to reduced re-offending rates compared to usual practice.

Geographical area

​North East and South West of England.

Research Institution / Organisation

Newcastle University

Contact Name

Professor Eileen Kaner

Project Start Date

March 2014

Participants - inclusion criteria

​The first part of the screening process is an assessment of eligibility for the study and particularly whether or not an arrestee has the capacity to understand what they are being asked to consent to. Arrestees who are not deemed to be a danger to themselves or police staff will be eligible to take part in the trial if they can speak, read and write English and have a fixed abode and score 8 or more on the AUDIT questionnaire.

Target Sample Size

​60 arrestees per arm - there are 3 arms in the pilot trial.

Study Design

​Pilot Feasibility Trial with embedded qualitative process study.


​The three arms of the trial are additive and will include:

  • screening only (control group)
  • brief advice (intervention 1) on the same occasion; and
  • brief lifestyle counselling (intervention 2) on a subsequent occasion.

Control condition - Arrestees will be screened using the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT)AUDIT and assessed via the baseline questionnaire but they will not receive further alcohol-specific information or feedback on their screening responses.


Intervention 1- —brief advice - Arrestees will be screened and assessed and then personalised feedback will be given on their screening score. This will then be followed by 10 minutes of structured brief advice about alcohol and its impact on health and offending behaviour. The brief intervention procedures will be fully manualised and based on the “‘How much is too much”’ brief intervention programme (level 1), which was highlighted by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence alcohol prevention guidance (PH24) as an evidence based brief alcohol intervention programme [243].(National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence., 2010).


Intervention 2 – —brief lifestyle counselling - Arrestees will be screened and assessed and receive personalised feedback on their screening score. This will then be followed by 10 minutes of brief advice (as above) delivered by the individual carrying out the screening. Arrestees will then also be invited to a subsequent 20 -minute session of behaviour change counselling within one1 month and at an appropriate venue taking into consideration confidentiality, risk assessment and participant convenience and comfort. The counselling will be based on the “‘How much is too much”’ programme (level 2) and include assessment of readiness to change (via numeric scales considering both the importance of, and confidence about, changing drinking behaviour), exploration of the pros and cons of changing and development of a practical and personalised six-step plan for changing drinking habits.

Outcome Measures

​The key outcomes measures in this pilot trial will be the percentage of eligible participants recruited and percent of enrolled participants retained at 12 months. Due to uncertainty about the mobility and traceability of our study population, the 6 -month follow-up will enable us to re-check contact details and assess interim attrition.

In addition, a number of tools will be administered to assess response variability in key measures likely to be used in a future definitive trial. AUDIT score has been found to be responsive to change following alcohol intervention [26545] and has been successfully used as an outcome measure in a recent trial with offenders [191920]. Thus, AUDIT will be used to measure changes in alcohol consumption and risk status following brief intervention. In addition, we will use: the modified Readiness to Change Ruler [276512] to assess readiness to change drinking behaviour on a numerical scale of 0–10, and the EQ-5D to measure Quality of life [2628767]. We will also collect demographic data including age, gender, ethnicity and postcode, as well as the reason that the individual was arrested and subsequently whether the arrestee was charged or released without charge.


Permission will be sought from participants at baseline for linkage to a) police force arrest data in order to validate self-report arrest data, and b) PNC data in order to record and validate conviction and offending history and identify offences in 12 months after recruitment.

Date last updated

Wednesday 18 January 2017
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