Alcohol assessment and feedback by email for university students: main findings from a randomised controlled trial

Br J Psychiatry. 2013 Nov;203(5):334-40. doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.113.128660. Epub 2013 Sep 26.


Background: Brief interventions can be efficacious in changing alcohol consumption and increasingly take advantage of the internet to reach high-risk populations such as students.

Aims: To evaluate the effectiveness of a brief online intervention, controlling for the possible effects of the research process.

Method: A three-arm parallel groups design was used to explore the magnitude of the feedback and assessment component effects. The three groups were: alcohol assessment and feedback (group 1); alcohol assessment only without feedback (group 2); and no contact, and thus neither assessment nor feedback (group 3). Outcomes were evaluated after 3 months via an invitation to participate in a brief cross-sectional lifestyle survey. The study was undertaken in two universities randomising the email addresses of all 14 910 students (the AMADEUS-1 study, trial registration: ISRCTN28328154).

Results: Overall, 52% (n = 7809) of students completed follow-up, with small differences in attrition between the three groups. For each of the two primary outcomes, there was one statistically significant difference between groups, with group 1 having 3.7% fewer risky drinkers at follow-up than group 3 (P = 0.006) and group 2 scoring 0.16 points lower than group 3 on the three alcohol consumption questions from the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT-C) (P = 0.039).

Conclusions: This study provides some evidence of population-level benefit attained through intervening with individual students.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / prevention & control*
  • Alcohol Drinking / psychology
  • Binge Drinking / diagnosis
  • Binge Drinking / prevention & control*
  • Binge Drinking / psychology
  • Electronic Mail
  • Feedback, Psychological*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intention to Treat Analysis
  • Internet
  • Male
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Students / psychology*
  • Students / statistics & numerical data
  • Sweden
  • Universities*
  • Young Adult

Associated data

  • ISRCTN/ISRCTN28328154