Breaking Down Barriers by CFE Research

Breaking Down Barriers – International and UK approaches to help dependent drinkers access treatment by CFE Research.

This literature review reviews and presents in one place the existing evidence in the UK and internationally around barriers to accessing treatment and effectiveness of intervention pathways.

While it is important to note that the vast majority of the population in the UK do not exceed the Chief Medical Officers recommended lower risk guideline of 14 units or less of alcohol per week, there is a small minority of people who drink more than 35 (female) or 50 (male) units + a week, with some of these becoming dependent. This is an important addition to the bank of research that summarises the research into the existing barriers that high harm drinkers face when accessing support. It presents potential options for policymakers to consider when reviewing the support in place to help.

Key findings

Existing data demonstrates that nearly half of dependent drinkers successfully complete treatment. However, of those who would be eligible to access treatment, just 1 in 5 (18%) of dependent drinkers are in treatment.

The literature review points to five significant barriers to people accessing treatment, including:

  • stigma around alcohol misuse;
  • this cohort face interrelated complexities;
  • existing services are hard to navigate;
  • some services do not meet the needs of this cohort;
  • and potential limitations of professional capacity and resources.

Cost analysis has determined the potential that for every £1 spent on treatments for alcohol dependency there is an immediate £3 benefit, demonstrating some potential options that can support existing government funding allocation for this group.

It can be concluded from the existing research that there is no one silver bullet that will address all barriers to treatment, but a combination of the following five approaches could help to break down some of the barriers this cohort face, including:

  • digital interventions;
  • assertive outreach;
  • collocated and integrated services with multi-disciplinary teams;
  • building capacity among professionals;
  • and community, family and peer support.

CFE Research

CFE are hugely respected researchers and specialise in health and wellbeing. They have worked extensively with the public sector and other not for profit bodies including the evaluation of the Fulfilling Lives programme that explored ways to better support people experiencing multiple forms of disadvantage. They also published the evaluation of Active Ageing and Tackling Inactivity and Economic Disadvantage for Sport England and an Evaluation of the Primary Science Campaign for the Wellcome Trust.

In their own words they are: ‘Passionate about effective research and evaluation, we take a rigorous, robust approach to a range of projects. Applying our unrivalled knowhow, we deliver fast, accurate results that help you to evaluate policies and programmes and understand what works and why.”

Read the report here.