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Swiss Research Institute for Public Health and Addiction

MobileCoach Alcohol: Reduction of problematic alcohol consumption among young people via SMS and Internet

Summary Evaluation of the effectiveness of an internet and SMS-based intervention to reduce problem alcohol consumption among adolescents and young adults. 
Project manager(s) Severin Haug
Duration 07.2014-07.2016
Client / Funding partner(s) Schweizerischer Nationalfonds (SNF)
Cooperating partner(s) Fachstelle Suchtprävention des Mittelschul- und Berufsbildungsamts Zürich, Stiftung Berner Gesundheit (BeGes)


Problematic alcohol consumption, especially excessive consumption on single occasions (binge drinking), is widespread among adolescents and young adults. Online feedback, which compares one’s own alcohol consumption with that of a reference group of the same sex and age, is promising to reduce problem alcohol consumption. The Short Message Service (SMS) also offers new possibilities for sending individualized messages at a flexible time and place. 


Our objective is to review the effectiveness of a combined internet and SMS-Based intervention to reduce problem alcohol consumption among adolescents and young adults. The intervention includes (1) a one-off online feedback with information in the form of graphics and text on individual drinking habits and the actual drinking norm of a reference group, (2) individualized SMS messages sent to adolescents over a period of 3 months in order to reduce problem drinking, including at times and in situations where alcohol is commonly consumed. 


The effectiveness of the intervention will be tested on approximately 930 students at Swiss vocational and secondary schools. The students will first be invited to take part in an anonymous short survey on health behavior during school lessons and then to participate in the study. Participants in the study are randomly assigned either to an intervention group that participates in the program or to a control group that can participate in the program after a waiting period of 6 months (waiting list control group). The main objective criterion of the efficacy assessment, which will be recorded in all study participants in a follow-up survey after 6 months, is the practice of intoxication within the previous month. 


A low-threshold, Internet and SMS-based programme, which is promising to reduce problem alcohol consumption among young people and which can be carries out cost-effectively within the school setting, will be tested for the first time in a randomized control study. 


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