Text-Messaging to Prevent Binge Drinking – Recently, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh, School of Medicine, used a text-message intervention method to prevent binge-drinking of alcohol in young adults and found it to be effective.
For the study, researchers, led by Brian Suffoletto, M.D., assistant professor of emergency medicine, conducted a 12-week trial on 765 18- to 25-year-olds who had been discharged from emergency centers in western Pennsylvania for binge-drinking and alcohol-related injuries. Binge-drinking was defined as more than five drinks in a 24-hour period for men, and four for women. The participants were divided into 3 groups – the control group received conventional care but no text messages, the second group received text messages on Sundays asking about the number of drinks they had consumed, and a third group received text messages on Thursdays about their weekend drinking plans, and another text on Sundays expressing concern if the number of drinks they planned to consume were too high. These participants also received messages encouraging them to set limits on their consumption and positive reinforcements for reducing their alcohol use.
Researchers found that after 6 months, participants in the third group had one less binge-drinking day per month, while the other two groups saw no reduction. Suffoleto said that the program was effective because young adults are more receptive to communicating via text messages as it reduces the embarrassment and stigma associated with face-to-face counseling. Text messages can also be more timely. This form of intervention is also easily scalable and cost-effective.
The study was published in the journal, PLoS ONE.