College Drinking Reduced by Online Interventions

College students who received Internet-based screening and brief interventions were less likely to drink alcohol, according to researchers from Australia and New Zealand.

For the study, more than 7,200 undergraduate students ages 17-24 were prescreened for alcohol use. Those classified as engaging in harmful or hazardous drinking were assigned to either a control group or to receive online motivational feedback therapy.

After one month, participants receiving intervention drank less often, smaller quantities per occasion and less alcohol overall than did controls, according to the researchers, who also noted that the effects for overall and per-occasion consumption persisted at a six-month followup. Differences in alcohol-related harms were not significant, however.

“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,” the authors wrote, adding: “The e-SBI, a program that is available free for nonprofit purposes, could be extended to other settings, including high schools, general practices and hospitals.”

The study appears in the Sept. 14, 2009 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

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