Our aim is to reduce deaths from alcohol-related liver disease and offer psychological support to help patients stop drinking. We will test a new treatment called Functional Imagery Training (FIT) developed by our team.
Alcohol-related liver disease is caused by long-term heavy alcohol consumption. It is the commonest cause of liver disease in the UK and results in over 60,000 hospital admissions each year. Ongoing alcohol use leads to complications of liver disease resulting in poor quality of life and early death. The only cure to prevent worsening of the liver is reducing or stopping alcohol use. Currently, treatment and support for these patients are insufficient. We want to test if FIT can help these patients stop drinking alcohol.
FIT is a brief counselling-based therapy that strengthens people’s motivation to change their behaviour. It teaches patients to use mental imagery (visualisation) to sustain their desire to change even when faced with challenges. In a weight-loss trial, people who received FIT lost five times as much weight as those receiving another form of counselling. This project will tell us if patients with alcohol-related liver disease find FIT helpful, if they continue using FIT after leaving hospital, and if we can retain contact for a 6 month follow up.
We aim to recruit 90 patients who have been admitted to hospital with alcohol-related liver disease in Plymouth, Bristol and Leeds. All will receive usual treatment and half will be randomly allocated to FIT treatment as well. Patients allocated to FIT will be offered one session as an inpatient delivered by a trained nurse and a second outpatient session a week later. Seven brief booster phone sessions will be delivered over the next 6 months. Researchers will collect information on alcohol use and use of health and social care services and costs of care to patients and their families at recruitment and by telephone four times over six months. If this small study is successful, information from this study will be used to plan a larger trial to test whether FIT is effective in helping patients with alcohol-related liver disease to stop drinking.