Victorian EDs to pilot screening app for harmful drinking

A mobile phone app equipped with the World Health Organisation's Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Tool (AUDIT) is set to be piloted in three Victorian emergency departments to help clinicians screen people for harmful drinking.

The trial is a collaboration between Monash University, Monash Health, the Australasian College of Emergency Medicine and the Hello Sunday Morning campaign, which have teamed up for the Enough is Enough: Emergency Department Clinicians Action on Reducing Alcohol Harm project.

The project has won funding from the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth) as part of its alcohol innovation challenge.

Lead researcher Diana Egerton-Warburton, an associate professor at Monash University's Department of Medicine and School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health, said the intervention program aimed to reduce alcohol harm in Victoria and the number of people admitted to emergency departments.

“This project will develop a smart phone app to allow emergency department clinicians to identify hazardous drinkers and offer them a brief intervention (BI) and referral to appropriate follow up services,” Dr Egerton-Warburton said in a statement.

Clinicians will screen patients for harmful drinking on their smartphones using the AUDIT, a simple tool that contains questions on alcohol consumption, drinking behaviour and dependence, and problems related to drinking.

Where appropriate, clinicians can then refer the patient to HelloSundayMorning.org, an online program that encourages users to take a break from alcohol.

Dr Egerton-Warburton said about 10 per cent of emergency attendances at Monash Health, Victoria's busiest ED, were the result of harmful drinking.

“We plan to develop a brief intervention that is feasible for busy emergency service clinicians to reduce alcohol harm in Victoria and reduce emergency department representation rates.”

The project aims to pilot the app at Monash Health, St Vincent’s Hospital and a Victorian regional hospital.

Posted in Australian eHealth

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