Benefits of temporary alcohol restriction: a feasibility randomized trial.

Field, Matt ORCID: 0000-0002-7790-5559, Puddephatt, Jo-Anne, Goodwin, Laura ORCID: 0000-0002-0354-7787, Owens, Lynn ORCID: 0000-0001-7549-9350, Reaves, Danielle ORCID: 0000-0003-4045-6080 and Holmes, John
(2020) Benefits of temporary alcohol restriction: a feasibility randomized trial. Pilot and feasibility studies, 6. 9 - ?.

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Background:Participation in temporary alcohol abstinence campaigns such as 'Dry January' may prompt enduring reductions in alcohol consumption. A randomized controlled trial (RCT) is required to establish any long-term benefits or negative consequences of temporary abstinence. In the present study, we randomized heavy drinkers to complete or intermittent alcohol abstinence for 4 weeks, in order to evaluate the feasibility of conducting a large-scale RCT. Methods:This was a mixed methods feasibility study in which we explored recruitment and retention to a randomized trial, compliance with alcohol abstinence instructions and barriers to compliance, and acceptability of study procedures (primary feasibility outcomes). A community sample of women aged between 40 and 60 who drank in excess of 28 alcohol units per week were randomized to abstain from alcohol for 4 weeks either completely or intermittently (at least four abstinent days per week). To monitor compliance, both groups provided regular breath samples on a cellular breathalyser. A subsample completed a semi-structured interview that probed barriers to compliance with abstinence instructions and acceptability of study procedures. Results:Within 5 months, we recruited, screened and randomized 25 participants (20% of participants who responded to advertisements: 14 in the complete abstinence group, 11 in the intermittent abstinence group), 24 of whom were retained throughout the 28-day intervention period. Participants in both groups tended to comply with the instructions: the median number of breathalyser-verified abstinent days was 24 (IQR = 15.5-25.0; 86% of target) in the complete abstinence group versus 12 (IQR = 10-15; 75% of target) in the intermittent abstinence group. Semi-structured interviews identified some barriers to compliance and methodological issues that should be considered in future research. No adverse events were reported. Conclusions:It is feasible to recruit heavy drinking women from community settings and randomize them to either complete or intermittent abstinence from alcohol for 4 weeks. The majority of participants were retained in the study and compliance with the abstinence instructions was good, albeit imperfect. A comprehensive RCT to compare temporary alcohol abstinence with other alcohol reduction strategies on long-term alcohol consumption is feasible. Findings from such a trial would inform implementation of alcohol campaigns and interventions.

Item Type: Article
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 18 Feb 2020 10:14
Last Modified: 27 Nov 2021 08:14
DOI: 10.1186/s40814-020-0554-y
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