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Research Summary

An Alcohol Screening Website Attracts Hazardous Drinkers

AlcoholScreening.org is a widely promoted, anonymous, and free online service that offers visitors a self-screening of their drinking behaviors, individualized feedback, and, when appropriate, information about treatment. In a study evaluating the use of the site, researchers found the following:

  • In a 14-month span, the site recorded over 66,000 visitors. Nearly 40,000 visitors over age 18 completed the screening about their own drinking habits.
  • Almost all visitors who completed the screening (90%) were drinking hazardous amounts (determined by the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test [AUDIT] and 2 additional quantity and frequency questions; defined as >14 standard drinks per week or >4 drinks per occasion for men, and >7 drinks per week or >3 drinks per occasion for women).
  • Most (65%) had possible alcohol abuse or dependence (AUDIT score of >=8).
  • Similar proportions of men and women were drinking hazardous amounts.
  • After receiving their results, 19% chose the “Learn More” or “Get Help” options on the site. Visitors with more severe alcohol problems were more likely to choose these options.

Comments:

A highly promoted website offering alcohol screening and feedback reported many visits, especially by those drinking hazardous amounts or with possible alcohol abuse or dependence. Further, nearly one-fifth of visitors with alcohol use problems sought more information or help from the site. The success of AlcoholScreening.org suggests that such websites are an efficient and perhaps relatively inexpensive means (at least compared with individual health provider interviews) for targeting hazardous drinkers.

Joseph Conigliaro, MD, MPH

Reference:

Saitz R, Helmuth ED, Aromaa SF, et al. Web-based screening and brief intervention for the spectrum of alcohol problems. Prev Med. 2004;39(5):969–975.


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