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Research Summary

Web-based Alcohol Screening and Brief Intervention Reduces Drinking among College Students

Web-based interventions may have the potential to reduce unhealthy alcohol use in college students. In this study, researchers randomized 2435 Australian undergraduates who scored positive for hazardous drinking* to 10 minutes of Web-based assessment and personalized feedback or to a control condition (screening only). Blinded assessment of alcohol consumption and adverse outcomes was done at 1 and 6 months post-randomization.

  • Compared with controls, students receiving the intervention reported fewer drinking days (6 versus 7 days at 1 month; 7 versus 8 days at 6 months) and fewer drinks per week (8 versus 10 drinks at 1 month; 9 versus 11 drinks at 6 months).
  • Compared with controls, students receiving the intervention reported significantly less heavy drinking† (15% versus 22% at 1 month; 19% versus 25% at 6 months).
  • No differences in heavy episodic drinking were seen between groups, nor did they differ in number of adverse personal, social, sexual, legal, or academic consequences at 1 and 6 months.

*Defined as a score of ≥8 on the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test.
†Defined as >14 drinks per week in women and >28 drinks per week in men.

Comments:

This study suggests that a brief Web-based intervention can produce beneficial changes in drinking for up to 6 months among college students who report hazardous drinking. Although the effects were modest, the potential societal benefits are large because of the capability of such interventions to reach large populations at a reasonable cost.

Kevin L. Kraemer, MD, MSc

Reference:

Kypri K, Hallett J, Howat P, et al. Randomized controlled trial of proactive web-based alcohol screening and brief intervention for university students. Arch Intern Med. 2009;169(16):1508–1514.


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