Text message programme reduces binge drinking in young adults

1st December, 2015 by Annie Hayes

Enrolling young adults in a text message programme may be effective in reducing binge drinking according to the results of a new 12-week study.

casestudy

Participants reported an average of one less binge drinking day per month

The findings of the trial, which was reported in the journal PLOS ONE, found that the “positive effects” of the text message programme continued six months after it ended.

The study tested three groups made up of a total of 700 people aged between 18 and 25 who had been discharged from four urban emergency departments in Pennsylvania, US.

A control group received standard care and no text messages; a self-monitoring group received text messages on Sundays asking about drinking quantity but received no feedback; and the final group received the full programme, which included text messages on Thursdays to ascertain weekend drinking plans and instigating a limit, followed by another text on Sunday to inquire about actual consumption and provide tailored feedback.

Six months after the end of the trial, participants who were exposed to the full text-message intervention reported an average of one less binge drinking day per month, and reported a 12% reduction in binge drinking.

The control group and the self-monitoring group both had no reduction in alcohol consumption.

A summary of the findings read: “This randomised trial provides the first experimental evidence that an automated and interactive text message intervention can produce sustained reductions in alcohol consumption in a diverse sample of young adults.

“Given the low cost to send text messages and the capacity to deliver them to almost every young adult in the US, an SMS intervention targeting binge drinking could have public health impact on reducing both immediate and long-term health problems.”

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