Improved online personalized assessment feedback for problem drinkers?

First published: 09/05/2019 | Last updated: May 20th, 2019

Aims: In recent years, evidence-based online services for problem drinkers have been developed. This paper describes ongoing efforts to improve one of these services, the Alcohol Help Center. Specifically, this report summarizes new modules added to the Check Your Drinking (CYD) screener, a component of the Alcohol Help Center, to make the CYD screener more useful to periodic heavy drinkers, as well as regular alcohol consumers.

Design: Volunteer feedback survey hot-linked to the final feedback report generated for all users of a personalized assessment feedback program.

Setting: The Check Your Drinking screener, part of the Alcohol Help Center (www.alcoholhelpcenter.net). The Check Your Drinking screener provides free personalized feedback that compares the user’s drinking to others in the general population of the same age, sex, and country of origin (for Canada, U.S.A, and U.K.; other countries forthcoming).

Participants: 388 volunteers (69% female) were recruited from registered users of another free-to-consumer online eHealth service, the Stop Smoking Center (7,741 e-mail invitations distributed, 973 respondents completed the survey, 732 were current drinkers, and 388 filled in the voluntary feedback survey).

Measurements: Current alcohol consumption (AUDIT, weekly drinking, consequences) and demographic characteristics collected as part of the CYD screener. The voluntary feedback survey asked about impressions of the feedback.

Findings: The feedback was judged to be useful and accurate, in particular by those respondents identified as current problem drinkers using the AUDIT. Of the feedback modules, respondents found the weekly drinking summary most useful.

Conclusions: The updated Check Your Drinking screener was well received but improvements can still be made to make the CYD more relevant to periodic heavy drinkers. Further research is needed to determine whether the new CYD modules would result in improved drinking outcomes.

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John Cunningham