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A randomized controlled trial of social media interventions for risky drinking among adolescents and emerging adults.

Bonar EE, Bauermeister JA, Blow FC, Bohnert ASB, Bourque C, Coughlin LN, Davis AK, Florimbio AR, Goldstick JE, Wisnieski DM, Young SD, Walton MA. A randomized controlled trial of social media interventions for risky drinking among adolescents and emerging adults. Drug and Alcohol Dependence. 2022 Aug 1; 237:109532.

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PURPOSE: Alcohol use among adolescents and emerging adults is an important public health issue requiring prevention approaches. Herein, we describe outcomes from a randomized controlled trial testing the efficacy of group-based social media interventions targeting risky drinking among youth. PROCEDURES: Using social media advertisements to screen potential participants, we recruited 955 youth (ages 16-24) reporting recent risky drinking. After completing a baseline assessment, participants were randomized to 8-week secret Facebook group conditions: Social Media Intervention + Incentives for engagement, Social Media Intervention only, and attention-placebo control. Electronic coaches trained in motivational interviewing facilitated interaction in intervention groups. Primary outcomes include past 3-month alcohol use and consequences over 3-, 6-, and 12-month follow-ups. Secondary outcomes include other drug use, consequences, and impaired driving. We also measured intervention engagement and acceptability. RESULTS: The interventions were well-received, with significantly greater acceptability ratings and engagement in the SMI+I condition relative to other groups. In adjusted analyses, there were no significant differences between interventions and control on alcohol-related outcomes, with all groups showing reductions. Regarding secondary outcomes (70.4% used other drugs), compared to control, the incentivized group reduced other drug use, consequences, and cannabis-impaired driving; the non-incentivized group did not significantly differ from the control condition. CONCLUSIONS: Among this predominantly poly-substance using sample, findings were mixed, with significant effects of the incentivized social media intervention on drug (but not alcohol) outcomes. Future studies are needed to further refine social media-delivered interventions to reduce alcohol and other drug use. TRIAL REGISTRATION: NCT02809586; University of Michigan HUM#00102242.

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