Text messaging as an adjunct to a web-based intervention for college student alcohol use: A preliminary study

Addict Behav. 2017 Oct;73:63-66. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2017.04.018. Epub 2017 Apr 28.


Brief, web-based motivational interventions have shown promising results for reducing alcohol use and associated harm among college students. However, findings regarding which alcohol use outcomes are impacted are mixed and effects tend to be small to moderate, with effect sizes decreasing over longer-term follow-up periods. As a result, these interventions may benefit from adjunctive strategies to bolster students' engagement with intervention material and to extend interventions beyond initial contacts into student's daily lives. This study tested the efficacy of text messaging as an adjunct to a web-based intervention for heavy episodic drinking college students.

Methods: One-hundred and thirteen undergraduate student risky drinkers recruited from an introductory psychology class were randomly assigned to one of three conditions-assessment only (AO), web intervention (WI), and web intervention plus text messaging (WI+TXT). Heavy drinking episodes (HDEs), weekend quantity per occasion, and alcohol-related consequences were assessed at baseline and one month follow-up. Univariate analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) was used to assess the influence of condition assignment on 1-month outcomes, controlling for baseline variables.

Results: Planned contrasts showed that those in the WI+TXT condition showed significantly less weekend drinking than those in the AO and WI conditions. Although those in the WI+TXT condition showed significantly fewer HDEs compared to AO, it was not significantly different than the WI only condition. No differences were observed on alcohol-related problems.

Discussion: These findings provide partial support for the view that text messaging may be a useful adjunct to web-based interventions for reducing alcohol consumption among student drinkers.

Keywords: Alcohol; College student; Text messaging; Web-based intervention.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Alcohol Drinking in College*
  • Alcohol-Related Disorders / prevention & control
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Binge Drinking / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Harm Reduction
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motivational Interviewing / methods
  • Text Messaging*
  • Treatment Outcome