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Internet and paper self-help materials for problem drinking: is there an additive effect?

Cunningham JA, Humphreys K, Koski-Jännes A, Cordingley J. Internet and paper self-help materials for problem drinking: is there an additive effect? Addictive Behaviors. 2005 Sep 1; 30(8):1517-23.

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The objective of this study was to conduct a preliminary evaluation of an Internet-based intervention for problem drinkers, comparing changes in drinking between respondents who only received the intervention to those who also received a self-help book. After receiving a personalized feedback summary on the Internet, 83 respondents provided complete baseline information and volunteered to participate in a 3-month follow-up survey. Half of the respondents were randomized to receive an additional self-help book. The follow-up was returned by 48 respondents (69% female). Repeated measures ANOVAs were conducted to compare drinking levels at baseline and 3-month follow-up among respondents who only received the Internet-based intervention. There was minimal support for an impact of the Internet intervention alone. In addition, hierarchical regression analyses were conducted to compare respondents in the two intervention conditions on their drinking at follow-up, controlling for baseline consumption. Respondents who received the additional self-help book reported drinking less and experiencing fewer consequences at follow-up as compared to respondents who received only the Internet-based intervention. While the results are promising, they cannot be taken as evidence of the efficacy of Internet-based personalized feedback as a stand-alone intervention because of the absence of a control group that did not receive the intervention. Further research on this topic should be a priority because of the potential for Internet-based interventions to reach problem drinkers underserved by traditional treatment.

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