An evidence-based model for estimating requirements for specialist alcohol treatment capacity in England: An overview

First published: 09 May 2019 | Last updated: 20 May 2019

Aims: To develop an evidence- and consensus-based capacity model to estimate the number of individuals who would access specialist alcohol treatment services and require different types of treatment options in England each year at both national and local levels.

Methods: A range of existing data sets including the National Drug Treatment Monitoring System, the Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey 2007 and Hospital Episode Statistics, have been used to develop a dynamic treatment capacity model. This process and the setting of key model parameters have been supported by a systematic review of the literature and advice from key stakeholders.

Results: The model is built of three components: an alcohol dependence prevalence estimator (accounting for age, sex, severity of dependence, deprivation and homelessness); a service demand estimator (accounting for alcohol consumption, complex needs, treatment pathways and outcomes); and an outcomes estimator (mortality, resource costs, system capacity and prevalence). The newly completed model underlies a computer-based specialist alcohol treatment capacity tool. The tool allows end users to benchmark their Local Authority against the rest of England in terms of prevalence of alcohol dependence and treatment access rates to different types of specialist treatment. It also allows 5-year modelling of different treatment availability scenarios to assist in treatment system planning and commissioning.

Conclusions: Our Department of Health commissioned model is the first in England to dynamically integrate prevalence and treatment access data. The treatment capacity tool has the potential to inform and support commissioners in resource allocation decision-making for specialist alcohol treatment services.


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Dr Penny Buykx