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Making health care interventions and technologies usable, safe, and effective
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Background: Heavy consumption of alcohol among university students has been shown to be a global problem with excessive drinking being the social norm. Students can be a difficult target group to reac...
Background: Heavy consumption of alcohol among university students has been shown to be a global problem with excessive drinking being the social norm. Students can be a difficult target group to reach, and only a minority seek alcohol-related support. It is important to develop interventions that can reach university students in a way that does not stretch the resources of the health services further. Text-based interventions can enable continuous, real-time, cost-effective, brief support in a real-world setting, but there is a limited amount of evidence for effective interventions on alcohol consumption based on text messaging among young people. To address this, a text messaging-based alcohol consumption intervention, the Amadeus intervention, was developed. Objective: The present study was performed to explore self-reported changes in drinking habits in an intervention group and a control groups to explore user satisfaction among the intervention group and the experiences of being allocated to a control group. Methods: Students allocated to the intervention group were asked about their drinking habits and offered the opportunity to give their opinion on the structure and content of the intervention. Students in the control group were asked about their drinking habits and their experiences of being allocated to the control group. The participants received an email with an electronic link to a short questionnaire. Descriptive analyses of the distribution of the responses to the 12 questions for the intervention group and five questions for the control group were performed. Results: The response rate for the user feedback questionnaire among the intervention group was 38% (n=176) and 30% (n=129) for the control group. The variation in the content of the text messages from facts to motivational and practical advice was appreciated by 135 participants (77%) and 97 (55%) found the number of messages per week to be about right. One hundred forty-two participants (81%) stated that they had read all or nearly all the messages. Ninety-one participants (52%) stated that they were drinking less, and increased awareness regarding negative consequences was expressed as the main reason for reduced alcohol consumption. Among the participants in the control group, 52 (40%) expressed that it did not matter that they had to wait for access to the intervention. Regarding actions taken while waiting for access, 62 participants (48%) claimed that they continued to drink as before and 45 (35%) tried to reduce their consumption without any support. Conclusions: Although the main randomized controlled trial was not able to detect a statistically significant effect of the intervention, most of the participants in the present qualitative follow-up study stated that participation in the study helped them reflect upon their consumption, leading to changed drinking habits and reduced alcohol consumption. Clinical Trial: ISRCTN95054707.