Balance--a pragmatic randomized controlled trial of an online intensive self-help alcohol intervention

Addiction. 2014 Feb;109(2):218-26. doi: 10.1111/add.12383. Epub 2013 Nov 21.


Aims: To compare a brief versus a brief plus intensive self-help version of 'Balance', a fully automated online alcohol intervention, on self-reported alcohol consumption.

Design: A pragmatic randomized controlled trial. Participants in both conditions received an online single session screening procedure including personalized normative feedback. The control group also received an online booklet about the effects of alcohol. The treatment group received the online multi-session follow-up program, Balance.

Setting: Online study in Norway.

Participants: At-risk drinkers were recruited by internet advertisements and assigned randomly to one of the two conditions (n = 244).

Measurements: The primary outcome was self-reported alcohol consumption the previous week measured 6 months after screening.

Findings: Regression analysis, using baseline carried forward imputation (intent-to-treat), with baseline variables as covariates, showed that intervention significantly affected alcohol consumption at 6 months (B = 2.96; 95% confidence interval = 0.02-5.90; P = 0.049). Participants in the intensive self-help group drank an average of three fewer standard alcohol units compared with participants in the brief self-help group.

Conclusions: The online Balance intervention, added to a brief online screening intervention, may aid reduction in alcohol consumption compared with the screening intervention and an educational booklet.

Keywords: Behaviour change intervention; early intervention; harmful drinking; hazardous drinking; mobile telephone text messages.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / prevention & control*
  • Cell Phone
  • Feedback, Psychological
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internet*
  • Male
  • Pamphlets
  • Remote Consultation / methods
  • Self Care / methods*
  • Self-Help Groups*
  • Treatment Outcome