Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care


Completed Projects

Here you can find details of some past projects ARIG researchers worked on..

Alcohol Consumption across the Life-course: Determinants and Health Consequences 

Funding:European Research Council, Medical Research Council, Alcohol Change UK; 2013-2017 

Principal Investigator:Dr Annie Britton 

Linked ARIG researchers:Dr Steven Bell, Dr Dara O'Neill, Melanie Lacey, Craig Knott. 

Project summary: 

Research on the health consequences of alcohol needs to address the effects of changes in drinking behaviour over the life-course. The current evidence base lacks the consideration of the complexity of lifetime consumption patterns, the major predictors of change in drinking and the subsequent health risks. Determining the effects of cumulated exposure to alcohol over decades is best achieved by analysing data from large, longitudinal observational cohort studies. This allows for the assessment of the consequences of changing drinking pattern over time and for comparisons of the relative importance of contemporaneous drinking with prior cumulative effects of drinking in earlier life. Such information can be used to inform public health initiatives. 

We have data from several large, prominent longitudinal cohort studies with repeated measures of alcohol consumption, which will be analysed (separately and combined when appropriate) to address the issues described above. 



Developing and evaluating a theory-based smartphone application to reduce excessive alcohol consumption 

Principal Investigators: Professor Robert West, Professor Susan Michie 

Linked ARIG researchers:Dr Jamie Brown, Claire Garnett, David Crane. 

Project summary: 

Specific aims are as follows: 
1. Systematically review the evidence for, and theoretical basis of, the effectiveness of mobile phone apps in changing behaviour, including addictive behaviours 
2. Design an app to help excessive alcohol consumers reduce their consumption, drawing on PRIME Theory (West, 2006) and the Behaviour Change Wheel (Michie et al, 2011) and 
3. Evaluate the app in an RCT. 
The intervention will follow the procedure established by the team in the development of other digital interventions: identify the behaviour changes techniques that offer greatest potential impact for the widest target audience; go through an iterative process of development and user testing to create a full prototype; undertake a full pilot of the prototype to establish the potential impact; undertake further refinements as needed to create the version to put into the RCT. 
The RCT will compare the theory-based app with an information-only version that will be designed as part of the project. Excessive alcohol consumers will be recruited from websites including NHS Choices and Change4Life, which has worked well in other studies.  They will all download the same app (which will include consenting to be allocated to different experimental conditions) but will be randomised to the intervention or control version. Outcome will be assessed by a standard quantity-frequency daily self-report electronic diary record. 

An exploratory randomized controlled trial of brief alcohol advice delivered in general dental practice 

Funding:National Institute Health Research (NIHR)(dates?) 

Principal Investigator: Professor Richard Watt 

Linked ARIG researchers:Dr Annie Britton, Dr Hynek Pikhart. 

Project summary: 

Exploratory phase – qualitative research 
1. To explore the views of dental patients on the relevance of alcohol to oral health and the acceptability of being asked questions about alcohol intake by dentists, and brief advice delivered in a general dental practice 
2. To explore the views of dental practitioners and their teams on the relevance and importance of alcohol misuse to oral health 
3. To explore the views and experience of dental teams of delivering brief alcohol interventions to their adult patients and the barriers to their involvement. 
Developmental phase – exploratory randomized controlled trial 
1. To develop a brief alcohol intervention tailored for use in general dental practice settings and to train recruited dental teams in the delivery of the intervention 
2. To determine the feasibility of the intervention in terms of recruitment and retention of study sample and the engagement with dental professionals 
3. To determine the distribution of study outcomes, rate of follow-up of study participants and the extent of clustering between practices to inform sample size calculation for future definitive trial 
4. To assess through a process evaluation the acceptability of the intervention to both patients and dental professionals 
5. To make recommendations on the conduct of a future definitive RCT 

Alcohol consumption, life course transitions and health in later life 

Principal Investigator: Professor Clare Holdsworth (Keele University) 

Linked ARIG researchers:Dr Nicola Shelton, Dr Hynek Pikhart, Dr Cesar Oliveira (Co-PIs) 

Project summary: The research undertaken will extend understanding of the patterns of alcohol consumption at older ages; how drinking is associated with health conditions and other life course events and the risk factors for excessive drinking in later life. Using longitudinal data the project analyses the stability of drinking behaviours over time and how these patterns interact with key transition events, in housing, relationships, employment and family.  A particular emphasis will be the relationship between drinking and health conditions among the elderly, to include both a modelling of the relationship between stability of drinking behaviours and health conditions, as well as potential impact of drinking on medication.  The project will develop a practice-informed modelling approach that will engage with users at all stages of the research and will also raise awareness of the potential for secondary service data to support policy initiatives directed towards individual health behaviours and how these are shaped over the life course. 

Diabetes and the alcohol conundrum: what drinking trajectory is associated with the lowest risk of diabetes in later life? 

Funding:European Research Council (2013-2016) (PhD studentship) 

Lead researcher: Craig Knott 


Specific aims include: 

1) Identify drinking trajectories and explore how type II diabetes risk differs according to each. 

2) Identify critical periods: does short-term heavy alcohol consumption in old age permanently increase the risk of type II diabetes regardless of prior exposure? 

Investigating the health of non-drinkers; the sick-quitter and sick non-starter hypotheses 

Funding:Alcohol Research UK and UCL Impact (2010-2013) 

Lead researcher:Linda Ng Fat 

Summary:  Linda’s PhD explored the relationships between the non-consumption of alcohol and health in early adulthood using the Health Survey for England and whether it exists across time using The 1958 National Child Development Study and the 1970 British Cohort study.  Interviews with people who do not drink alcohol in relation to health were also conducted to examine how this behaviour change was managed. 

Finding the missing units: Identifying under-reporting of alcohol consumption in England 

Funding:UK Medical Research Council PhD studentship (2010-2013) 

Lead researcher:Sadie Boniface 

Summary:  Sadie's PhD focused on issues surrounding measurement of alcohol consumption. It involved analysis of existing national health surveys, as well as a quantitative study of drink pouring practices, and a qualitative study of routine drinking habits. 

The role of lifestyle behaviours on cognitive functioning and on cognitive decline 

Funding:UK Medical Research Council PhD studentship (2009-2013) 

Lead researcher:Dorina Cadar 

Summary:  Dorina's project investigated the role of alcohol consumption in early midlife, independently and in combination of other lifestyle behaviours on cognitive decline from mid to later life.  The analyses included in this project used data from the MRC National Survey of Health and Development, the oldest of the British birth cohort studies.