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Online Alcohol Intervention Reduces College Drinking by 17%

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posted 01:12 AM EST, Tue September 15, 2009
Online Alcohol Intervention Reduces College Drinking by 17% © Photo Credit: Mark Sebastian

College students who met the criteria for harmful drinking behaviors drank 17% less one month after participating in an easy web based alcohol intervention.

Researchers in Australia say that providing college students with a free to use internet based alcohol screening and intervention program significantly reduces long term alcohol consumption habits.

The researchers pooled a sample of over 7000 Australian college undergraduate students, and via a web based questionnaire, asked about drinking habits, the most drinks consumed in a single session within the month, and harmful effects resulting from drinking, amongst other questions.

Of the 7237 students polled, 2435 of these met criteria for “harmful” drinking habits. Of these 2435, 1251 were assigned randomly to receive internet based interventions and the other 1184 were assigned to a non intervention control group.

Those assigned to the web based intervention group received information about healthier drinking behaviors, as well as personalized information based on the answers they provided in their survey, such as:

  • What their blood alcohol concentration reached during a recent heavy binge drinking session
  • How much they spend on alcohol a month
  • How their drinking compares to other students

They also received resource information via web hyperlinks to programs that offered help with problem drinking, or smoking cessation.

Students assigned to the control group received no feedback or support.

  • After 1 month, students from the web based intervention group drank 17% less than control group students
  • After 6 months, the web based students drank 11% less

The researchers hope that web based interventions might provide significant benefit to this at-risk group of young people, saying, “Given the scale on which proactive Web-based electronic screening and brief intervention (e-SBI) can be delivered and its acceptability to student drinkers, we can be optimistic that a widespread application of this intervention would produce a benefit in this population group.”

Read the full study report at the Archives of Internal Medicine.

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