Web-based strategies have the potential to improve delivery of alcohol screening and brief intervention. In a recent controlled study, researchers randomised 429 university students who screened positive for hazardous or harmful drinking (i.e. subjects scored 8 or higher on the alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT)). The students were given either a single web-based brief intervention, a web-based brief intervention with follow-up interventions at 1 and 6 months, or a control group receiving an educational pamphlet only. Interventions included alcohol assessments and personalised feedback. Participants completed web-based outcome assessments at 6 and 12 months.
Compared with controls, participants in the single intervention group reported significantly lower frequency of drinking at 6 months (rate ratio [RR], 0.79), lower total alcohol consumption at 6 and 12 months (RR, 0.77 at both times), and fewer academic consequences at 6 and 12 months (RR, 0.76 and 0.80, respectively).
Participants in the multidose group had similar results as the single-dose group but also reported fewer drinks on drinking days at 6 months (RR, 0.85), lower frequency of heavy drinking episodes at 6 months (RR 0.65), and fewer adverse consequences of heavy drinking at 12 months (RR, 0.81).
Professor R Curtis Ellison comments:
These findings suggest computerised web-based interventions have potential to increase the use of alcohol screening and brief intervention in outpatient settings without sacrificing the efficacy of face-to-face interventions. Because the study’s computerised interventions occurred in a university health clinic before a clinical visit, it is possible the intervention prompted participants to have further alcohol discussions with their clinicians. This technology will require further testing in other settings and populations.
Source: Kypri K, Langley JD, Saunders JB, et al. Randomized controlled trial of web-based alcohol screening and brief intervention in primary care. Arch Intern Med. 2008;168(5):530536.