Brief interventions can reduce alcohol consumption in young people through screening and delivery of personally relevant feedback. Recently, Web and mobile platforms have been harnessed to increase the reach of brief interventions. Existing literature on mobile-based alcohol brief interventions indicates mixed use of theory in developing interventions. There is no research available to guide the development of SMS text messaging (short message service, SMS) interventions delivered during risky drinking events.
The aim of this study was to develop and pilot an alcohol-related risk-reduction brief intervention delivered by SMS to Australian young adults during drinking events. This paper describes the development of intervention message content, with specific focus on the context of delivery during drinking events.
A sample of 42 young adults attended 4 workshops; these comprised focus-group style discussion on drinking habits and motivations, discussion of intervention design, analysis of existing alcohol media campaigns, and participant development of message content. Data were analyzed thematically.
Participants described a focus on having fun and blocking out any incongruent negative influences during drinking episodes. For content to be acceptable, nonjudgmental and non-authoritative language was deemed essential. A preference for short, actionable messages was observed, including suggestions for reminders around drinking water, organizing transport home, checking on friends, and plans the next day. Participants were excited about the potential for messages to be tailored to individuals, as previous alcohol-related campaigns were deemed too generic and often irrelevant. Normative-based messages were also perceived as largely irrelevant as participants felt that they understood the drinking-related norms of their immediate peers already.
Findings from this study offer insights into young adults' drinking events and practical advice for designing alcohol-related brief interventions. During our formative development process, we demonstrated a neat correspondence between young people’s preferences for alcohol harm reduction interventions and the theoretical principles of brief interventions, including acceptable topics and message style.
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