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Formative evaluation and three-month follow-up of an online personalized assessment feedback intervention for problem drinkers.

Cunningham JA, Humphreys K, Kypri K, van Mierlo T. Formative evaluation and three-month follow-up of an online personalized assessment feedback intervention for problem drinkers. Journal of Medical Internet Research [Electronic Resource]. 2006 Apr 12; 8(2):e5.

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BACKGROUND: In recent years, online services for problem drinkers have been developed. This paper describes ongoing efforts to improve one of these services, the Alcohol Help Center. OBJECTIVE: 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 to regular alcohol consumers. Participants' initial reactions to the CYD screener and the changes in their drinking habits at a three-month follow-up are presented. METHODS: The CYD screener provides a free personalized Final Report that compares the user's drinking to that of others in the general population of the same age, gender, and country of origin. Current alcohol consumption and demographic characteristics are collected as part of the CYD screening process. After users were presented with a customized Final Report, they were hot-linked to a volunteer feedback survey. The voluntary feedback survey asked about impressions of the CYD Final Report. Respondents agreeing to participate were sent a follow-up survey after three months. RESULTS: We recruited 388 volunteers (69% female) who were registered users of another free-to-consumer online eHealth service. Of the 343 respondents agreeing to participate in the three-month follow-up, 138 accessed the survey, and 97 provided complete data (participation rate = 40%; completion rate = 70%). Compared to moderate drinkers, current problem drinkers judged the Final Report to be more useful (34% vs. 69%, chi2 (1) = 41.5, P < .001) and accurate (43% vs. 76%, chi2 (1) = 36.0, P < .001). Respondents who participated in the three-month follow-up displayed reductions in drinking compared to baseline (F(4,76) = 12.2, P = .001). CONCLUSIONS: Improvements can still be made to make the CYD screener more relevant to specific populations, particularly periodic heavy drinkers. There is a need to further tailor algorithms that can present questions only relevant to specific populations. There also appears to be a need to further customize the Final Report for respondents who identify themselves as infrequent heavy drinkers. These improvements will be made, and a randomized controlled trial is planned to conduct a rigorous evaluation of the CYD screener as an intervention to help problem drinkers.

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