[summary] Public involvement in alcohol research | Alcohol Research UK

Key points

  • “Public involvement is not simple, but creating stronger links between universities, services, volunteers, and individuals with lived experiences is essential if the work we fund is to continue to help improve lives.” —Dr James Nicholls, Director of Research and Policy Development, Alcohol Research UK
  • Public involvement can be applied to all stages of research: Research strategy; Funding allocation; Development of research plans and proposals; Carrying out primary research; Data analysis and interpretation; Peer review; Communication and dissemination
  • Recommendations:
    – Make it fit: The level and nature of public involvement in a given research project should be appropriate to the subject
    – Invest time in building relationships
    – Try to find common language that everyone is comfortable with
    – It is important to manage expectations. Public involvement does not guarantee the success of a research project
    – Provide remuneration and reimburse expenses

Source: http://alcoholresearchuk.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Alcohol-Research-UK-Public-Involvement-Report-FINAL.pdf

Note: Here is an outline of some ways the public has contributed to addiction research from Alcohol Research UK’s spring event on this topic. ■

UK alcohol rehabs let down older people

Three out of four residential alcohol treatment facilities exclude older adults by imposing an age limit, while lack of disabled access often creates physical barriers.

Some older adults found living with younger residents was enriching, while others found the “generation gap” more of a challenge, according to the study by Alcohol Research UK.

Some felt bullied, intimidated or upset by ageist language and attitudes. At the same time “age blindness” sometimes means needs are not met.

[cutting/comment/clarification] ‘PHE tweaked alcohol study to impose stricter guidelines’ | Evening Standard

Between the earlier model and the later one a slight change had been made to the include risk of diseases that may not of been wholly caused by alcohol. …  Dr John Holmes from the Sheffield Alcohol Research Group [SARG, which produced the dispute graph] said: “The report by the Sheffield Alcohol Research Group was one of many pieces of evidence considered to inform the UK Chief Medical Officers’ revisions to the drinking guidelines–no single piece of evidence or modelling decision was used in isolation to determine the final guidelines.”

Source: [link removed] www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/public-health-england-tweaked-alcohol-research-to-impose-stricter-guidelines-report-reveals-a3675546.html

Note: The story seems to have been taken down. I am not overly committed to quibble about the UK’s low-risk drinking guidelines, which are just that, guidelines. It seems a more sensible use of resources to look at why we so often miss them, often quite spectacularly.

However, for those interested in following up this story I was sent this by SARG, which outlines problems it found in the paywalled Sunday Times story on which this withdrawn Evening Standard story was based:

  • The Guideline Development Group [GDG] drew on a comprehensive review of multiple evidence sources and new analyses to reach their conclusions.  This included: Published systematic reviews of existing evidence; Modelling by the University of Sheffield; Consultations with national and international experts; New research commissioned by Public Health England on the public understanding and acceptance of the draft guidelines.
  • The quote from a Sheffield Alcohol Research Group email on 14 January 2015 stating: “We do not expect to make any further changes to the numbers” is taken out of context.  
  • The following sentence of the original email states: “We are also aware the GDG may make further comments which we would want to address.” 
  • Minutes from the subsequent GDG meeting on 21 January 2015 state that, after hearing Sheffield’s presentation of their work, the GDG concluded: “A holistic, expert judgement on guideline levels would be needed, taking account of uncertainties and issues not fully modelled”.
  • This demonstrates that the group recognised there was considerable scientific uncertainty present and that no single piece of evidence or modelling decision used in isolation to would determine the final guideline.
  • As noted in the Royal Statistical Society’s consultation response: “This is a contested area of science with considerable uncertainties” (paragraph 1.1).
  • The change to the base case analyses related to a point of scientific uncertainty. The Sheffield Alcohol Research Group were happy with the decision taken whereby the base case analysis was revised but the original modelling assumptions were retained as one of a series of sensitivity analyses. 
  • Those analyses explored major areas of uncertainty within the underlying evidence and their implications for the Guideline Development Group’s work. The group considered those sensitivity analyses in detail and took them into account in their decision-making. ■

[cutting/letter] UK-wide minimum alcohol price would save lives and ease pressure on NHS | Guardian

We unequivocally endorse the Welsh government’s adoption of a minimum unit price for alcohol. … With alcohol misuse costing £21bn-£52bn per year, the UK government must now follow Wales and Scotland by implementing a policy that will save lives, relieve pressure on our NHS and fulfil its commitment to even out life chances.

[Letter signed by 50 signatories including: Shirley Cramer Chief executive, Royal Society for Public Health; Prof Parveen Kumar Chair, board of science, British Medical Association; Helen Donovan Royal College of Nursing]

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/oct/25/uk-wide-minimum-alcohol-price-would-save-lives-and-ease-pressure-on-nhs

[cutting/comment] Lidl brings out a ‘hangover-free’ Prosecco and it’s going to sell out by Xmas | Metro

Lidl brings out a ‘hangover-free’ Prosecco and it’s going to sell out by Xmas

“Generally, organic wine producers use a lower level of sulphites in the production process, which means they are less likely to contribute to hangovers. ‘So if you don’t react well to sulphites you could be saying good riddance to hangovers with Lidl’s Organic Prosecco Spumante.’”

Source: metro.co.uk/2017/10/10/lidl-brings-out-a-hangover-free-prosecco-and-its-going-to-sell-out-by-christmas-6988600/

Note: As the piece says alcohol is one among a range of factors which contribute to hangover severity, though usually not through dehydration as it also says. That said seems to be an irritant in its own right, possibly triggering an immune response. Alcohol’s moreishness is also the main reason we drink liquids in large amounts which is the reason for hangovers. It is, therefore, absurd to suggest a drink containing alcohol could be hangover-free. ■

[cutting/comment] Daily Mail follows up on Alcohol Companion’s story | Daily Mail

Tough new drink limits you won’t see on the bottle

[This story was first reported by Alcohol Companion*] Many drinks firms are keen to avoid printing the latest government guidance on alcohol units on labels–meaning they could profit as Britons adhere to previous less strict advice.

Source: www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-4961360/Tough-new-drink-limits-won-t-bottle.html

*Note: It is good to see the Daily Mail follow up on the story first revealed by Alcohol Companion almost a fortnight ago. It is a development worthy of wider attention. Just to point out, however. The headline talks about “drink limits”, but they are guidelines. And the unnamed organisation which described the government advice as “dead in the water” was an offshoot of the Campaign for Real Ale, called Drinkers’ Voice. With over 80% of British consumers wanting better health information on the labels of alcoholic drinks, it is hard to see how a small outfit campaigning to remove this information can be described as “consumer groups”. ■