Heavy episodic (binge) drinking is common among young adults and can lead to injury and illness. Young adults who seek care in the Emergency Department (ED) may be disproportionately affected with binge drinking behavior, therefore provide an opportunity to reduce future risk through screening, brief intervention and referral to treatment (SBIRT). Mobile phone text messaging (SMS) is a common form of communication among young adults and has been shown to be effective at providing behavioral support to young adult drinkers after ED discharge. Efficacy of SMS programs to reduce binge drinking remains unknown.
We will conduct a three parallel arm, randomized trial. A convenience sample of adults aged 18 to 25 years attending three EDs in Pittsburgh, PA and willing to participate in the study will be screened for hazardous alcohol consumption. Participants identified as hazardous drinkers will then be allocated to either 12 weeks of weekly SMS drinking assessments with feedback (SA+F), SMS drinking assessments without feedback (SA), or a control group. Randomization will be via an independent and remote computerized randomization and will be stratified by study site. The SA+F group will be asked to provide pre-weekend drinking intention as well as post-weekend consumption via SMS and will receive feedback messages focused on health consequences of alcohol consumption, personalized normative feedback, protective drinking strategies and goal setting. Follow-up data on alcohol use and injury related to alcohol will be collected through a password-protected website three, six and nine months later. The primary outcome for the study is binge drinking days (≥4 drinks for women; ≥5 drinks for men) during the previous month, and the main secondary outcome is the proportion of participants who report any injury related to alcohol in the prior three months.
This study will test the hypothesis that a mobile phone text-messaging program will result in immediate and durable reductions in binge drinking among at-risk young adults. By testing an intervention group to an assessment-only and control group, we will be able to separate the effect of assessment reactivity. By collecting pre-weekend drinking intentions and post-weekend consumption data in the SA+F group, we will be able to better understand mechanism of change.
Keywords: Alcohol misuse, Intervention, Randomized controlled trial, Effectiveness