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Evaluation Of Work-based Screening For Early Signs Of Alcohol-related Liver Disease In Hazardous And Harmful Drinkers: The PrevAIL Study

P. Cook, M. Morleo, D. Billington, Kevin Sanderson-Shortt, Colin Jones, M. Gabbay, N. Sheron, M. Bellis, P. Phillips-Howard, I. Gilmore
Published 2015 · Medicine

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BackgroundThe direct cost of excessive alcohol consumption to health services is substantial but dwarfed by the cost borne by the workplace as a result of lost productivity. The workplace is also a promising setting for health interventions. The Preventing Alcohol Harm in Liverpool and Knowsley (PrevAIL) project aimed to evaluate a mechanism for detecting the prevalence of alcohol related liver disease using fibrosis biomarkers. Secondary aims were to identify the additive effect of obesity as a risk factor for early liver disease; to assess other impacts of alcohol on work, using a cross-sectional survey.MethodsParticipants (aged 36-55y) from 13 workplaces participated (March 2011–April 2012). BMI, waist circumference, blood pressure and self-reported alcohol consumption in the previous week was recorded. Those consuming more than the accepted UK threshold (men: >21 units; female: >14 units alcohol) provided a 20 ml venous blood sample for a biomarker test (Southampton Traffic Light Test) and completed an alcohol questionnaire (incorporating the Severity of Alcohol Dependence Questionnaire).ResultsThe screening mechanism enrolled 363 individuals (52 % women), 39 % of whom drank above the threshold and participated in the liver screen (n = 141, complete data = 124 persons). Workplaces with successful participation were those where employers actively promoted, encouraged and facilitated attendance. Biomarkers detected that 30 % had liver disease (25 %, intermediate; 5 % probable). Liver disease was associated with the frequency of visits to the family physician (P = 0.036) and obesity (P = 0.052).ConclusionsThe workplace is an important setting for addressing alcohol harm, but there are barriers to voluntary screening that need to be addressed. Early detection and support of cases in the community could avert deaths and save health and social costs. Alcohol and obesity should be addressed simultaneously, because of their known multiplicative effect on liver disease risk, and because employers preferred a general health intervention to one that focused solely on alcohol consumption.
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