Four-year follow-up of an internet-based brief intervention for unhealthy alcohol use in young men

Addiction. 2018 Aug;113(8):1517-1521. doi: 10.1111/add.14179. Epub 2018 Mar 7.


Aim: To estimate the long-term efficacy of an internet-based brief intervention (IBI) in decreasing alcohol use among men on (1) number of drinks/week and (2) monthly or more binge drinking prevalence. In addition, overall changes in alcohol use were assessed.

Design: Participants in a cohort study were recruited in a two parallel-group randomized controlled trial of an IBI versus no-intervention control condition, showing a positive intervention effect at 6 months. As part of the regular cohort assessments, participants were re-assessed 47 months after the initial trial, offering an opportunity to determine long-term efficacy.

Setting: Young Swiss men from the general population.

Participants: Of 737 randomized trial participants with unhealthy alcohol use (> 14 drinks/week or ≥ 6 drinks/occasion at least monthly, or Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) ≥ 8), 626 completed a cohort assessment at mean ± standard deviation (SD) = 47.4 ± 2.6) months after their randomized trial baseline assessment.

Intervention: IBI included normative and personalized feedback on alcohol use, risk indicators, information about alcohol and health and recommendations; controls: assessment only.

Measurements: Self-reported number of drinks/week and monthly or more binge drinking prevalence.

Findings: Comparisons at follow-up were adjusted for baseline drinking. Missing values were replaced with the last observation carried forward. There was no evidence of differences between the IBI and control group on either the number of drinks/week [IBI: 10.8 (14.2); control: 10.7 (14.1), P = 0.8] or monthly or more binge drinking prevalence (IBI: 65.1%; control: 63.5%, P = 0.5). Although there was no evidence of overall change from baseline in number of drinks/week [9.8 (7.9) at baseline, 10.8 (14.1) at 47 months, P = 0.051], there was evidence that monthly or more binge drinking prevalence had decreased during the follow-up time (84.9% at baseline, 64.3% at 47 months, P < 0.001).

Conclusions: An internet-based brief intervention directed at unhealthy alcohol use among young men does not appear to reduce drinking over the long-term.

Keywords: Brief intervention; four-year follow-up; internet; randomized trial; unhealthy alcohol use; young men.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcoholism / therapy*
  • Binge Drinking / therapy*
  • Feedback, Psychological*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Internet*
  • Male
  • Patient Education as Topic*
  • Switzerland
  • Young Adult

Associated data

  • ISRCTN/ISRCTN55991918