Innovative research project to tackle alcohol-related hospital admissions

An innovative research project will focus on the understanding the challenges of caring for people with alcohol dependence admitted to acute hospitals.

Patients who are alcohol dependent often have complex needs, and while in hospital may require: a comprehensive assessment, effective management of alcohol withdrawal symptoms and help in accessing specialist support when they leave hospital.

Alcohol-related hospital admissions in England continue to rise, with estimates that 10% of patients admitted to acute hospitals may be alcohol dependent.

The NHS long-term plan has invested £26 million to ‘optimise’ Alcohol Care Teams (ACTs) through the development of existing services and the establishment of new teams in 25% of hospitals in greatest need by 2024.

The need to develop the evidence base for the effectiveness of hospital-based ACTs has been recognised by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) which has agreed £1.8 million to fund ProACTIVE Programme of Research for Alcohol Care Teams: Impact, Value and Effectiveness.

Jointly led by Professor Thomas Phillips, Professor of Nursing (Addictions) at the University of Hull, and Professor Julia Sinclair, Professor of Addiction Psychiatry within Medicine at the University of Southampton, this three-year research programme brings together a highly experienced research consortium from the universities of Keele, Kent, King’s College London, Sheffield and Newcastle, and an independent public co-applicant.

ProACTIVE aims to deliver a multi-disciplinary, integrated, mixed-methods study designed to evaluate the impact of ACTs.

Professor Phillips, Professor of Nursing (Addictions) at the University of Hull, said: “Our consortium of experienced researchers drawn from institutions across England will identify the most effective service elements and will shape future delivery of care.”

Professor Sinclair, Professor of Addiction Psychiatry within Medicine at the University of Southampton, said: “This is a great opportunity to build research capacity and improve outcomes for patients who are poorly served in our current system.”

Central to the programme is the development of an ACT network to co-produce evidence and tools with patients, policy makers and commissioners about the best use of NHS funds in this area.

The ProACTIVE programme has four interconnected work packages (WP):

  • WP1: A national survey to inform the development of a taxonomy for ACT interventions, and exploration of the reliability and linkage of nationally available data
  • WP2: evaluation of the clinical and cost-effectiveness of ACTs, including a quasi-experimental naturalistic study and an interrupted time series analysis using nationally available data
  • WP3: qualitative evaluation of ACTs using an organisational ethnographic case study design to identify factors that shape the composition, delivery, and impact of ACTs
  • WP4: facilitation of timely synthesis of findings from each phase of the programme.

We are seeking to recruit research staff to support the delivery of this research. Initial appointments will be advertised on, University of Hull and University of Southampton vacancy pages, including a Research Fellow (Southampton), Research Fellow/Trial Manager (Hull), research assistants, and a Personal and Public Involvement (PPI) Co-ordinator (Southampton).

For more information contact: Thomas Phillips or Julia Sinclair.

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