Objectives: To explore the feasibility and acceptability of a future definitive cluster randomised controlled trial (cRCT) of ASBI in a school setting to staff, young people and parents; to explore the fidelity of the interventions as delivered by school learning mentors; to estimate the parameters for the design of a definitive cRCT of brief alcohol intervention, including rates of eligibility, consent, participation and retention at 12 months; and to pilot the collection of cost and resource-use data to inform the cost-effectiveness/utility analysis in a definitive trial.
Setting: Seven schools across one geographical area in North East England.
Methods: Feasibility of trial processes, recruitment and retention and a qualitative evaluation examined facilitators and barriers to the use of ASBI approaches in the school setting in this age group. A three-arm pilot cRCT (with randomisation at the school level) with qualitative evaluation to assess the feasibility of a future definitive cRCT of the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of ASBI in a school setting, with an integrated qualitative component. The trial ran in parallel with a repeated cross-sectional survey, which facilitated screening for the trial.
Participants: Year 10 school pupils (aged 14–15 years).
Interventions: Young people who screened positive on a single alcohol screening question, and consented to take part, were randomised to one of three groups: (1) feedback that their drinking habits may be risky and provision of an advice leaflet (control condition, n = two schools); (2) feedback as for the control condition plus a 30-minute brief interactive session, which combined structured advice and motivational interviewing techniques, delivered by the school learning mentor (intervention 1, n = two schools); or (3) feedback as for the control condition plus a 30-minute brief interactive session as for intervention 1 plus a 60-minute session involving family members delivered by the school learning mentor (intervention 2, n = three schools). Young people were followed up at 12 months.
Main outcome measures: Feasibility and acceptability.
Randomisation: Randomisation was carried out at the school level. Randomisation achieved balance on two school-level variables (numbers of pupils in school year and proportion receiving free school meals).
Blinding: School staff, young people and researchers were not blind to the intervention allocated.
Results: A total of 229 young people were eligible for the trial; 182 (79.5%) were randomised (control, n = 53; intervention 1, n = 54; intervention 2, n = 75). Of the 75 randomised to intervention 2, 67 received intervention 1 (89%). Eight received both intervention 1 and intervention 2 (11%). In total, 160 out of 182 were successfully followed up at 12 months (88%). Interviews were carried out with six school lead liaisons, 13 learning mentors, 27 young people and seven parents.