Effects of a stand-alone web-based electronic screening and brief intervention targeting alcohol use in university students of legal drinking age: A randomized controlled trial

Addict Behav. 2018 Feb;77:81-88. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2017.09.017. Epub 2017 Sep 28.


Background: Many intervention efforts targeting student drinking were developed to address US college students, which usually involves underage drinking. It remains unclear, if research evidence from these interventions is generalizable to university and college students of legal drinking age, e.g., in Europe.

Objective: To evaluate the effectiveness of a translated and adapted version of the eCHECKUP TO GO, applied as stand-alone web-based electronic screening and brief intervention (e-SBI), in German university students at risk for hazardous drinking.

Methods: A fully automated web-based two-arm parallel-group randomized controlled trial was conducted. Participants were randomized to an e-SBI or assessment-only (AO) condition. The current paper analyzed students with baseline AUDIT-C scores ≥3 for women and ≥4 for men (sample at baseline: e-SBI [n=514], AO [n=467]; 3-month follow-up: e-SBI [n=194], AO [n=231]; 6-month follow-up: e-SBI [n=146], AO [n=200]). The primary outcome was prior four weeks' alcohol consumption. Secondary outcomes were frequency of heavy drinking occasions, peak blood alcohol concentration, and number of alcohol-related problems.

Results: Mixed linear model analyses revealed significant interaction effects between groups and time points on the primary outcome after 3 and 6months. Compared to students in the AO condition, students in the e-SBI condition reported consuming 4.11 fewer standard drinks during the previous four weeks after 3months, and 4.78 fewer standard drinks after 6months. Mixed results were found on secondary outcomes.

Conclusions: The results indicate that evidence on and knowledge of web-based e-SBIs based on US college student samples is transferable to German university students of legal drinking age. However, knowledge of what motivates students to complete programs under voluntary conditions, although rare, is needed.

Keywords: Alcohol; Legal drinking age; Personalized feedback; Prevention; Students; e-SBI.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking in College / psychology*
  • Alcohol-Related Disorders / psychology*
  • Alcohol-Related Disorders / therapy*
  • Blood Alcohol Content
  • Female
  • Germany
  • Humans
  • Internet*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychotherapy, Brief / methods*
  • Students / psychology*
  • Students / statistics & numerical data
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Universities
  • Young Adult


  • Blood Alcohol Content