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    Journal Article

    A Pilot Study of Online Feedback for Adult Drinkers 50 and Older: Feasibility, Efficacy, and Preferences for Intervention

    Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment

    Published: June 2017


    Normative (NF) and personalized feedback (PF) are moderately effective brief interventions for at-risk drinking middle-aged and older adults. This study tested the feasibility of online feedback for drinkers 50 and older. This study’s aims were to identify whether there is differential effectiveness of PF over NF in prompting drinkers 50 years old and older to plan for change and to determine potential preferences for intervention among adult drinkers 50 and older with practical knowledge about computers.

    Using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, 138 male and female drinkers aged 50 to 75+ were recruited to complete an online survey that asked about their: perceptions of their drinking, quantity and frequency of drinking, and any comorbid health and/or mental health disorders/medications. They were then provided either NF or PF. NF provided information about how participants’ drinking compared to their same age and gendered peers. PF provided information about level of risk to health and provided recommendations for safe levels of drinking. After feedback, participants were evaluated for their reactions (e.g., “How much does this worry you?”) and their plan to change their drinking. Participants were asked about preferences for interventions.

    80% of participants rated themselves a no or low-risk drinker, yet 52.2% were found to be at-risk drinkers. Overall, participants reported feedback was helpful, and 43.9% made some kind of plan to change. Participants in NF were significantly more likely to make a plan for change than those in PF. Participants reported that they most preferred an online (40.9%) or a brief in-person (31.8%) intervention.

    Findings revealed that brief online feedback was feasible, though limited to those who are computer knowledgeable. Unexpectedly, NF outperformed PF, suggesting that peer comparisons may be more motivating for adults 50 and older than previously thought. Finally, an online intervention appears to be a preferred intervention for alcohol use among this particular group of drinkers.

    J Subst Abuse Treat. 2017 Jun. doi: 10.1016/j.jsat.2017.04.004.