Researchers at Victoria University have adapted a service developed by Burnet Institute to deliver tailored text messages to address risky drinking in young people.
The initiative, part of a two-year pilot supported by VicHealth, will target students at four residential colleges at Melbourne University with SMS texts before, during and after they engage in drinking sessions.
The research is based on Burnet’s ongoing Mobile Intervention for Drinking in Young People (MIDY) study, in which SMS questionnaires track participants’ consumption, spending, location and mood, and invite them to relate their plans, priorities, and any adverse events.
In response, participants receive tailored feedback relating to their drinking via SMS after each questionnaire.
Victoria University has identified tertiary students living in residential colleges as being particularly at risk.
“The pressures on young people are huge, to perform academically at university and to perform in order to get a job,” lead researcher Dr Tim Corney told The Age.
“Alcohol is used as a social lubricant and a release valve for those pressures."
Dr Megan Lim, Burnet Deputy Program Director, Behaviours and Health Risks, told the ABC that the power of peer pressure is compelling, but the text service has the potential to instil better drinking habits in young people.
“Binge drinking is part of university culture, so it has become the norm, and research from New Zealand shows that ‘O’ week sets them up for the rest of the year in terms of their drinking habits,” she said.
“This system isn’t telling people not to drink, but providing an option for them to manage their own drinking, or pace their drinking so they can have fun or not ruin the night by peaking too early, or make sure (they) don’t drink and drive.”
Find out more about Burnet’s MIDY research.