In this project we wanted to find out whether Brief Intervention (BI), can be adapted and used effectively with people with mild to moderate learning disabilities (LD). This is the first ever study of alcohol intervention for people with LD.
This study was in three stages: 1) Adaptation of the intervention; Extended Brief Intervention (EBI); 2) A single blind randomised controlled trial to compare EBI and usual care versus usual care only; 3) A qualitative study to examine what service users and carers thought of EBI.
The intervention consisted of 5 weekly sessions of 30 minutes duration with a review session of 60 minutes offered at week 8. Therapists were recruited from local LD services, were trained and supervised regularly. Thirty people were recruited (15 each group). Recruitment into the study was proven challenging, mainly due to lower than expected number of people having drinking problem. Results showed both groups have reduced their drinking, without any significant difference between them. The consensus from the qualitative interviews with participants and carers was largely positive.
Identification of appropriate cases was a major challenge for this study. This is consistent with the experience of a previous lifestyle trial (shape-up LD, NIHR RfPB funded) and confirms the importance and potential advantage of adding a short survey and education period prior to a feasibility trial. It could be argued that even brief screening for alcohol (control group) is potentially effective in reducing the severity of alcohol consumption for this population.