A preventative intervention for curbing problem drinking in young adults: a randomized controlled trial
Problem drinking is a common condition negatively affecting young adults’ mental and physical health. As various studies confirm, the drinking behavior of approximately 60% of young adults lies within the hazardous or harmful use range. Problem drinking among young adults has been associated with a variety of negative outcomes, such as poor educational attainment, poor work performance, and sexual risk behaviors.
Traditional counseling and prevention programs are often avoided by young adults due to stigma and the desire for self-reliance. Unguided internet- and mobile-based interventions require limited resources compared to traditional counseling and prevention programs and might be a novel solution to overcome common obstacles. A plethora of research has previously focused on internet-based universal prevention interventions, mostly targeting children and university students. However, less is known about the effectiveness of internet and mobile-based self-help tools in preventing and reducing drinking behaviors of young adults.
In our poster we will present the outline of our intervention and the protocol of the two-arm RCT. The aim of our internet and mobile-based unguided preventative intervention is to provide young adults with the opportunity to self-manage their alcohol consumption, curb drinking levels, and prevent future problem drinking behaviors. The included modules of the intervention provide tailored text and visual-based feedback according to participants’ responses. Specific ingredients of our intervention include personalized normative feedback, protective behavioral strategies, relaxation techniques, and a drinking diary. Furthermore, we will present the steps undertaken in the co-creation process such as planning, designing, and evaluating the intervention.
The two arm RCT will evaluate the effectiveness our intervention compared to a health educational brochure condition. Our sample size is based on a power calculation with alpha=0.05 and 1- beta=0.80, taking into account an expected small effect size (Cohen’s d = 0.20) for the reduction of total drinking scores between the two conditions at post-test.
We aim to recruit 250 young adults from 18 up to 30 years of age who express the wish to reduce their alcohol consumption. We will make use of an open recruitment strategy via social media advertisements, flyers and posters at places of interest for young adults, such as educational institutions, libraries, and sport clubs.
Assessments are completed online at baseline, 6 weeks and 6 months after baseline. The primary outcome is alcohol consumption defined as the quantity of alcohol use in the previous 30 days in number of standard drinks and will be assessed by the timeline follow-back assessment. We will assess the past month binge drinking episodes defined as four (females) or five (males) standard drinks on one drinking occasion. Furthermore, secondary measures include depressive symptoms, alcohol related harm, perceived stress, work and study performance, motivation, and user satisfaction with the intervention.