Preventing alcohol-related harm. Component A: Understanding local area alcohol policies, interventions, evaluation priorities, and evidence requirements

Component A:  Understanding local area alcohol policies, interventions, evaluation priorities, and evidence requirements.

Sheffield Contact: Dr Penny Buykx

What are the aims of this project?
The central aim of this project is to provide public health stakeholders within local authorities with evidence tailored to their particular context detailing the most effective and, where possible cost effective, alcohol policy interventions. Component A involves two parts:

Firstly, detailed case studies will allow us to understand the relevance of local context to the selection and implementation of Local Authority area alcohol policies, interventions and practices, to identify existing evaluations of these, and to discuss future evaluation opportunities.

Secondly, the mapping of alcohol interventions in local populations will allow us to understand what major policy interventions/initiatives have been used or are planned across Local Authorities. Further we will be able to quantify the intensity with which different interventions have been implemented across areas and relate this to alcohol related harms (thus informing Component B  of the research).

Why is this important?
Local government policy makers currently lack evidence tailored to their particular context which appraises the effectiveness and, where possible, cost-effectiveness of different combinations of policy and intervention options which would enable them to select the ‘best buys’ to meet their particular aims.

How will the research be carried out?
A series of qualitative descriptive case studies have been undertaken to explore the types of alcohol policies, interventions and practices applied at a local level and to identify the range of local government stakeholders involved. The six case study sites include Local Authorities in London, Yorkshire, North West, South West and North East regions. A grey literature search has also been undertaken to identify any local evaluations conducted.

The mapping of interventions by Local Authority will focus on access to cheap alcohol (pricing), use of licensing to limit availability, and alcohol screening and brief intervention. Information regarding the intensity of licensing intervention in each area has been obtained from a Home Office report. The data collection strategy to ascertain the extent of alcohol screening and brief intervention is currently being developed.

Timeframe: 2014-2016

The collaboration includes researchers from:

The University of Sheffield

Alan Brennan
John Holmes
Penny Buykx
Lucy Gell
Colin Angus
Petra Meier
Duncan Gillespie

Robert Pryce
John Mooney (now at University of Sunderland)

London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

Karen Lock
Matt Egan

University of Bristol

Matt Hickman
Frank de Vocht

University of Lancaster (LiLac)

Emma Halliday

How are stakeholders being engaged?

Component A involves extensive stakeholder engagement with public health teams within Local Authorities to ensure the research is responsive to their evolving needs and interests. People in various roles have been invited to contribute to the project, including public health, licensing professionals, councillors, trading standards representatives, and police.

What will be the outputs from the study?

A report will be produced on current policies and interventions used, methods of evaluations and plans for policy and intervention development in Local Authorities in England. Importantly, through close engagement with stakeholders, the study will identify opportunities for co-produced evaluations of local alcohol policies and intervention with Local Authorities. There will also be identification of interventions which may be the subject of a ‘natural experiment’ evaluation, whereby implementation of interventions is considered in relation to alcohol harms data.

Papers arising from the case studies are currently in preparation. Published papers so far include:

de Vocht, F., Campbell, R., Brennan, A., Mooney, J., Angus, C. and Hickman, M. (2015) ‘Propensity score matching for selection of local areas as controls for evaluation of effects of alcohol policies in case series and quasi case-control designs‘, Public Health, DOI: 10.1016/j.puhe.2015.10.033 (Open Access)

de Vocht, F., Heron, J., Angus, C., Brennan, A., Mooney, A., Lock, K., Campbell, R. and Hickman, M. (2015) ‘Measurable effects of local alcohol licensing policies on population health in England‘, Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, DOI: 10.1136/JECH-2015-206040 (Open Access)

More papers to follow, further presentations and papers from the project may be found here.