A brief intervention for improving alcohol literacy and reducing harmful alcohol use by women attending a breast screening service: a randomised controlled trial

Jasmin Grigg, Victoria Manning, Darren Lockie, Michelle Giles, Robin J. Bell, Peta Stragalinos, Chloe Bernard, Christopher J. Greenwood, Isabelle Volpe, Liam Smith, Peter Bragge, Dan I. Lubman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: To assess the effectiveness of a brief alcohol intervention for improving awareness of alcohol as a breast cancer risk factor, improving alcohol literacy, and reducing alcohol consumption by women attending routine breast screening. Design: Single-site, double-blinded randomised controlled trial. Setting: Maroondah BreastScreen (Eastern Health, Melbourne), part of the national breast cancer screening program. Participants: Women aged 40 years or more, with or without a history of breast cancer and reporting any alcohol consumption, who attended the clinic for routine mammography during 5 February – 27 August 2021. Intervention: Active arm: animation including brief alcohol intervention (four minutes) and lifestyle health promotion (three minutes). Control arm: lifestyle health promotion only. Major outcome measure: Change in proportion of women who identified alcohol use as a clear risk factor for breast cancer (scaled response measure). Results: The mean age of the 557 participants was 60.3 years (standard deviation, 7.7 years; range, 40–87 years); 455 had recently consumed alcohol (82%). The proportions of participants aware that alcohol use increased the risk of breast cancer were larger at four weeks than at baseline for both the active intervention (65% v 20%; odds ratio [OR], 41; 95% confidence interval [CI], 18–97) and control arms of the study (38% v 20%; OR, 4.9; 95% CI, 2.8–8.8), but the change over time was greater for the active intervention arm (arm × time: P < 0.001). Alcohol literacy also increased to a greater extent in the active than the control arm, but alcohol consumption did not significantly change in either arm. Conclusion: A tailored brief alcohol intervention for women attending breast screening was effective for improving awareness of the increased breast cancer risk associated with alcohol use and alcohol literacy more broadly. Such interventions are particularly important given the rising prevalence of risky drinking among middle-aged and older women and evidence that even very light alcohol consumption increases breast cancer risk. Registration: ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT04715516 (prospective; 20 January 2021).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)511-519
Number of pages9
JournalThe Medical Journal of Australia
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023


  • Alcohol-related disorders
  • Breast neoplasms
  • Health promotion
  • Mass screening
  • Policy, drugs and alcohol
  • Public health

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