The feasibility and effectiveness of a web-based personalised feedback and social norms alcohol intervention in UK university students: a randomised control trial

Addict Behav. 2008 Sep;33(9):1192-8. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2008.05.002. Epub 2008 May 14.


Objective: Alcohol misuse amongst University students is a serious concern, and research has started to investigate the feasibility of using e-health interventions. This study aimed to establish the effectiveness of an electronic web-based personalised feedback intervention through the use of a randomised control trial (RCT).

Methods: 506 participants were stratified by gender, age group, year of study, self-reported weekly consumption of alcohol and randomly assigned to either a control or intervention condition. Intervention participants received electronic personalised feedback and social norms information on their drinking behaviour which they could access by logging onto the website at any time during the 12-week period. CAGE score, average number of alcoholic drinks consumed per drinking occasion, and alcohol consumption over the last week were collected from participants at pre- and post-survey.

Results: A significant difference in pre- to post-survey mean difference of alcohol consumed per occasion was found, with those in the intervention condition displaying a larger mean decrease when compared to controls. No intervention effect was found for units of alcohol consumed per week or for CAGE scores. Sixty-three percent of intervention participants agreed that the feedback provided was useful. Those intervention participants who were above the CAGE cut off were more likely to report that the website would make them think more about the amount they drank.

Conclusions: Delivering an electronic personalised feedback intervention to students via the World Wide Web is a feasible and potentially effective method of reducing student alcohol intake. Further research is needed to replicate this outcome, evaluate maintenance of any changes, and investigate the process of interaction with web-based interventions.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Alcohol Drinking / prevention & control*
  • Alcohol Drinking / psychology
  • Alcoholism / prevention & control*
  • Alcoholism / psychology
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Feedback*
  • Feedback, Psychological
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internet*
  • Male
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Program Evaluation
  • Sex Distribution
  • Students / psychology*
  • Universities
  • Young Adult