BACKGROUND: In recent years, many electronic health behavior interventions have been developed in order to reach individuals with unhealthy behaviors, such as risky drinking. This is especially relevant for university students, many of whom are risky drinkers.
OBJECTIVE: This study explored the acceptability and feasibility in a nontreatment-seeking group of university students (including both risk and nonrisk drinkers), of a fully automated, push-based, multiple-session, alcohol intervention, comparing two modes of delivery by randomizing participants to receive the intervention either by SMS text messaging (short message service, SMS) or by email.
METHODS: A total of 5499 students at Luleå University in northern Sweden were invited to participate in a single-session alcohol assessment and feedback intervention; 28.04% (1542/5499) students completed this part of the study. In total, 29.44% (454/1542) of those participating in the single-session intervention accepted to participate further in the extended multiple-session intervention lasting for 4 weeks. The students were randomized to receive the intervention messages via SMS or email. A follow-up questionnaire was sent immediately after the intervention and 52.9% (240/454) responded.
RESULTS: No difference was seen regarding satisfaction with the length and frequency of the intervention, regardless of the mode of delivery. Approximately 15% in both the SMS (19/136) and email groups (15/104) would have preferred the other mode of delivery. On the other hand, more students in the SMS group (46/229, 20.1%) stopped participating in the intervention during the 4-week period compared with the email group (10/193, 5.2%). Most students in both groups expressed satisfaction with the content of the messages and would recommend the intervention to a fellow student in need of reducing drinking. A striking difference was seen regarding when a message was read; 88.2% (120/136) of the SMS group read the messages within 1 hour in contrast to 45.2% (47/104) in the email group. In addition, 83.1% (113/136) in the SMS group stated that they read all or almost all the messages, compared with only 63.5% (66/104) in the email group.
CONCLUSIONS: Based on the feedback from the students, an extended, multiple-session, push-based intervention seems to be a feasible option for students interested in additional support after a single-session alcohol intervention. SMS as a mode of delivery seems to have some advantages over email regarding when a message is read and the proportion of messages read. However, more students in the SMS group stopped the intervention than in the email group. Based on these promising findings, further studies comparing the effectiveness of single-session interventions with extended multiple-session interventions delivered separately or in combination are warranted.
2014. Vol. 2, no 2, e30- p.