A Mobile Intervention to Promote Low-Risk Drinking Habits in Young Adults: Protocol for a Randomized Controlled Trial

Nikolaos Boumparis, Mieke H.J. Schulte, Annet Kleiboer, Anja Huizink, Heleen Riper

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3 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Young adults' drinking habits commonly exceed recommendations for low-risk drinking, which may have a negative effect on their mental, social, and physical health. As smartphones are highly accessible to young adults, mobile apps could be used to support young adults to develop low-risk drinking habits and improve their general health.

OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness of Boozebuster, a self-guided mobile app based on healthy lifestyle-related components that aim to develop and maintain low-risk drinking habits among young adults.

METHODS: This two-arm, parallel-group randomized controlled trial will investigate whether a 6-week self-guided mobile intervention (Boozebuster) targeting drinking behavior is more effective than a minimal intervention consisting of an educational website on alcohol use and its consequences for young adults. We will recruit 506 young adults (aged 18-30 years) from the Netherlands via an open recruitment strategy by using an open access website. All outcomes will be self-assessed through questionnaires. The primary outcome is the quantity and frequency of alcohol consumption in standard drinks (10 g ethanol per standard drink) per month (timeline follow-back [TLFB]). Secondary outcomes include binge-drinking sessions per month, alcohol-related problem severity (Rutgers Alcohol Problem Index), cannabis use frequency and quantity in grams (TLFB), depressive symptoms (Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale), perceived stress (Perceived Stress Scale), engagement (Twente Engagement with eHealth Technologies Scale), readiness to change (Readiness to Change Questionnaire), mental well-being (Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale), trauma and COVID-19-related trauma (Short-Form Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Checklist for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition), impulsivity (Urgency, Premeditation, Perseverance, Sensation Seeking, Positive Urgency Impulsive Behavior Scale), study or work performance (Individual Work Performance Questionnaire), and treatment adherence. Baseline (T0), 6-week postbaseline (T1), and 3-month postbaseline (T2) assessments will be conducted and analyzed on the basis of the intention-to-treat principle using multilevel mixed modeling analyses.

RESULTS: Recruitment began in September 2020. We received 933 registrations via our study information website; 506 participants have completed the T0 assessment, 336 participants have completed the T1 assessment, and 308 participants have completed the T2 assessment as of May 2021. The study is still in progress, and results will be reported in 2021 and 2022.

CONCLUSIONS: Self-guided mobile interventions based on a lifestyle approach might be an attractive approach for young adults due to their preference on self-reliance, healthy living, and increased perceived anonymity. Such interventions are yet understudied, and it is known that interventions addressing solely problem drinking are less appealing to young adults. We hypothesize that the Boozebuster mobile app will effectively reduce drinking levels compared to an alcohol educational website (control condition). If effective, our intervention could be an inexpensive and scalable public health intervention to improve drinking habits in young adults.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: Netherlands Trial Register NL8828; https://www.trialregister.nl/trial/8828.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e29750
JournalJMIR Research Protocols
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jun 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

©Nikolaos Boumparis, Mieke H Schulte, Annet Kleiboer, Anja Huizink, Heleen Riper. Originally published in JMIR Research Protocols (https://www.researchprotocols.org), 07.06.2021.


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