Can a smartphone application decrease unhealthy alcohol use among university students who self-report excess alcohol use?
A smartphone application can lower, on average, the amount of drinking — total amount and heavy drinking days— in college students who are concerned enough about their drinking to try the app. The app used in this study is not universally available but a quick trip through the app stores revealed a bunch of low-cost or no-cost apps that targeted university students. Other studies have also found apps to provide some reduction in alcohol use. 1b-
Plan de l'etude:
Randomized controlled trial (nonblinded)
University students in Switzerland were invited to complete an online screening for alcohol use. The 1770 patients who screened positive for unhealthy alcohol use and who agreed to participate were randomly assigned, using concealed allocation, to be directed either to a website to download an iPhone application or to a website that thanked them for their participation but did not offer the application. The application (Smaart) is free of charge but is available only in French and is not available in all countries. The app comprises 6 modules that provide information on normal behavior for college students regarding alcohol use, as well as information about the risks of alcohol use. Other modules allow for goal setting, self-monitoring, and a means of calculating blood alcohol level. Most of the students (84%) assigned to the app group downloaded it. Follow-up over one year was 94%. On average, the self-reported number of drinks per week dropped from 8.93 to 7.04 in the intervention group. The number of heavy drinking days dropped 3.58 to 3.1 days per month, which translates to one less Saturday night every calendar quarter. The maximum number of drinks on one occasion similarly dropped from 7.4 to 6.9. All these results were statistically greater than the control group results. On average, alcohol-related consequences and academic performance were not different between the 2 groups.
Allen F. Shaughnessy, PharmD, MMedEd
Professor of Family Medicine