Know Your Numbers intervention is improving the alcohol specific health literacy of healthcare staff by changing the focus of how alcohol affects health in line with other risk factors such as blood pressure, cholesterol or weight.
We have created materials that can be accessed in the resources Know Your Numbers Patient Leaflet, 2 Education posters, training presentation for health staff and developed a new app, which you can also download to your phone, which calculates alcohol intake and can help you track how much you have drunk, and how you can achieve a healthy balance by knowing your alcohol 'numbers.'
Please note that to view the app online your browser must be enabled for WebGL (web graphics library), ie Chrome or Firefox.
You can access the web version of the app, and download it to your Android or iPhone:
Healthcare professionals are used to asking patients about their smoking habits but they remain uncomfortable when it comes to asking patients about their alcohol consumption. Consequently, they are missing opportunities to intervene or identify alcohol as an underlying cause of ill health. The Know Your Numbers pilot at UHS will raise the alcohol-specific health literacy of more than 4,000 healthcare staff by 50% to improve the identification of alcohol as a cause of ill health.
We have demonstrated that healthcare staff have a poor understanding of how to calculate alcohol health risk based on patients’ alcohol consumption. In addition, the opportunities for staff to understand their own health risks are being missed. This presents a significant problem as alcohol consumption is responsible for 3 – 5% per cent of absences from work and, the NHS is Europe’s largest employer.
Implementing ‘Know Your Numbers’ is a new way to approach alcohol training and fits well as a behavioural change approach. We start with being able to define our own behaviour, how many units we drink per week and then reflect where that fits on the spectrum of risk. Encouraging people to give a specific number to their drinking level rather than a category also avoids the stigma of labelling oneself or someone else as ‘alcohol dependent’ or ‘alcoholic’. This is like other conditions, such as blood pressure, cholesterol and weight, where the size of the risk is relative to the size of the number. Not knowing how to calculate our own level of drinking (if we drink), we are unable to assist our patients to do the same. With an improved knowledge of alcohol units, we can ask our patients about their drinking, allowing us to identify and treat patients with alcohol problems.
So far, the project has shown that healthcare staff receiving the Know Your Numbers intervention are four times more likely to be able to calculate units of alcohol.
You can also view the Know Your Numbers slides delivered at our Getting to Grips with Alcohol 2016 event below:
Know Your Numbers online app
Learning about alcohol:
Getting help for alcohol harm: