Have a Word

The Violence Research Group's randomised trials of brief advice about alcohol consumption have identified when and where this advice is effective. However, the language associated with brief advice, such as "motivational interviewing" and "psychological interventions" is not understood by practitioners and policy makers. Therefore, the Violence Research Group worked with practitioners and marketing experts to develop what became the Have a Word brand: "Brief Advice Works, Have a Word!"

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This brand is used to market effective brief advice and to motivate practitioners to undertake the necessary training to deliver brief advice to patients, offenders, students and others in order to prompt behaviour change concerning alcohol. This approach has significant potential for affecting changes in other health behaviours, for example, in relation to exercise and diet.

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Project aims

The aims of the Have a Word project are to:

  • transfer knowledge of effective brief advice on alcohol derived from trials conducted by the Violence Research Group

  • embed alcohol misuse screening and brief advice into the NHS and the armed services through this motivational and social marketing approach.


This project is funded by Welsh Government, Innovation UK and Public Health England. Implementation across Wales is funded by Public Health Wales. Implementation in the UK armed services is funded by the Ministry of Defence.


Principal investigator

Professor Jonathan Shepherd | Emeritus Professor, Crime and Security Research Institute


Professor Simon C Moore | Theme lead for Applied Clinical Research and Public Health, Professor of Public Health Research, Co-Director of Crime and Security Research Institute and Director of Alcohol & Violence Research Group

Implementation team

  • Professor Jonathan Shepherd, Cardiff University

  • Dr Sarah Jones, Cardiff University

  • Major Peter Field, Defence Dentistry, MOD

  • Craig Jones, Public Health Wales

  • Don Lavoie, Public Health England.


To date, the outputs of the project consist of:


So far, the outcomes of the project include:

  • 16,000 health and other professionals trained to deliver across Wales

  • a contract with Public Health England to deliver "train the trainers" courses across England

  • implementation in three health regions in England followed by national implementation strategy

  • adoption by the Ministry of Defence

  • implementation in UK army dental services capitalising on mandatory dental checks

  • use of Have a Word to support the new NHS England CQUIN “Preventing ill health from alcohol use".