Electronic communication based interventions for hazardous young drinkers: A systematic review.
BACKGROUND Previous research on the effectiveness of online alcohol interventions for college students has shown mixed results. Small benefits have been found in some studies and because online interventions are inexpensive and possible to implement on a large scale, there is a need for further study. OBJECTIVE This study evaluated the effectiveness of national provision of a brief online alcohol intervention for students in Sweden. METHODS Risky drinkers at 9 colleges and universities in Sweden were invited by mail and identified using a single screening question. These students (N=1605) gave consent and were randomized into a 2-arm parallel group randomized controlled trial consisting of immediate or delayed access to a fully automated online assessment and intervention with personalized feedback. RESULTS After 2 months, there was no strong evidence of effectiveness with no statistically significant differences in the planned analyses, although there were some indication of possible benefit in sensitivity analyses suggesting an intervention effect of a 10% reduction (95% CI -30% to 10%) in total weekly alcohol consumption. Also, differences in effect sizes between universities were seen with participants from a major university (n=365) reducing their weekly alcohol consumption by 14% (95% CI -23% to -4%). However, lower recruitment than planned and differential attrition in the intervention and control group (49% vs 68%) complicated interpretation of the outcome data. CONCLUSIONS Any effects of current national provision are likely to be small and further research and development work is needed to enhance effectiveness. TRIAL REGISTRATION International Standard Randomized Controlled Trial Number (ISRCTN): 02335307; http://www.isrctn.com/ISRCTN02335307 (Archived by WebCite at http://www.webcitation.org/6ZdPUh0R4).