Finland: Mobile App to Help Prevent Alcohol Use Disorders
The Päijät-Häme Joint Authority for Health and Well-being in Finland partnered with Finnish company Medanets to create a mobile app for alcohol and other substance use prevention.
The app features a mobile version of AUDIT-C, a screening questionnaire for identifying early signs of at risk alcohol use. The app is used in inpatient wards of special healthcare units as part of a larger project to develop substance abuse prevention. Answers and parameters are inputted by healthcare professionals and generate a risk score for the patient.
The use of the app has made our operations more structured and systematic: work and documentation go hand in hand,” said Susanna Leimio, regional coordinator for preventive work at the Päijät-Häme Joint Authority for Health and Well-being, as per Good News From Finland.
At the request of the joint authority, Medanets supplemented the questionnaire with a 10 to 15 minute intervention for patients with high scores. Both the questionnaire and intervention take place in the presence of the patient at the point of care. The information is transferred to the electronic health record in real time.
Alcohol prevention work is important for Finland. The country reports alcohol as a major burden and one of the most common causes of death among working-age people. Alcohol-related harm is estimated to cost the country nearly €1.5 billion a year.
Screening and brief interventions – important elements of a comprehensive approach
The World Health Organization (WHO) includes screening and brief interventions as ‘good buy’ in its technical package SAFER to help countries reduce and prevent alcohol harm.
SAFER is outlining five high-impact strategies that can help governments prevent and reduce alcohol harm and related health, social and economic consequences.
- Strengthen restrictions on alcohol availability.
- Advance and enforce drink driving countermeasures.
- Facilitate access to screening, brief interventions, and treatment.
- Enforce bans or comprehensive restrictions on alcohol advertising, sponsorship, and promotion.
- Raise prices on alcohol through excise taxes and pricing policies.
Health professionals have an important role in helping people to reduce or stop their alcohol use to reduce health risks, and health services have to provide effective interventions for those in need of help and their families. Health services are central to tackling harm at the individual level among those with alcohol-use disorders and other health conditions,” writes WHO on the SAFER website.