Efficacy of an Online Self-Help Treatment for Comorbid Alcohol Misuse and Emotional Problems in Young Adults: Protocol for a Randomized Controlled Trial

JMIR Res Protoc. 2018 Nov 1;7(11):e11298. doi: 10.2196/11298.


Background: Alcohol misuse and emotional problems (ie, depression and anxiety) are highly comorbid among Canadian young adults. However, there is a lack of integrated, accessible, and evidence-based treatment options for these young adults.

Objective: The main goal of this study is to develop and test the efficacy of an integrated, online self-help program designed to target both alcohol misuse and emotional problems.

Methods: A two-arm randomized controlled trial design will be used to compare the efficacy of the online integrated treatment to a psychoeducational control group. A target sample of 214 participants will be recruited and randomly assigned to either condition. The integrated treatment will last 8 weeks, and participants will work through 12 modules. Modules will incorporate content based on principles of cognitive behavioral therapy and motivational interviewing. Participants in the control group will receive links to psychoeducational resources and will have access to the full treatment after follow-up. The primary outcome will be the number of Canadian standard drinks consumed in the week leading up the assessment. Secondary outcomes of interest include symptoms of depression, anxiety, alcohol-related problems, quality of life, and use of other drugs. Assessments will be completed at 3 time-points: at baseline, at the end of treatment (ie, 8 weeks), and at follow-up (ie, 24 weeks). Upon completion, data will be analyzed using generalized linear mixed models.

Results: Data collection began in June 2018 and will continue until January 2020. Final study results will be submitted for publication by July 2020.

Conclusions: Currently, there are no integrated treatments designed to target alcohol misuse and the range of emotional problems experienced by young adults. This research stands to provide an effective, accessible (ie, Web-based), and feasible option to treat the many struggling young adults in this country.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov ID NCT03406039; https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT03406039 (Archived by WebCite at http://www.webcitation.org/72fDefnrh).

Registered report identifier: PRR1-10.2196/11298.

Keywords: alcohol misuse; anxiety; cognitive behavioral therapy; depression; integrated treatment; mobile phone; motivational interviewing; online; self-help.

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT03406039