A text message programme can significantly cut binge drinking episodes in teenagers, a University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine-led trial has showed.
The findings revealed that the programme reduced binge drinking and alcohol-related injuries when compared to a control group. The positive effect continued six months after the programme ended.
“Given the low cost to send text messages, such intervention targeting binge drinking could have a public health impact on reducing both immediate and long-term health problems,” said lead author Brian Suffoletto, assistant professor of emergency medicine.
The 12-week trial involved 765 18- to 25-year-olds who were discharged from four urban emergency departments in western Pennsylvania.
The control group received standard care and no text messages.
The self-monitoring group received text messages on Sundays asking about drinking quantity but received no feedback.
The final group received the full programme, which consisted of text messages on Thursdays inquiring about weekend drinking plans and promoting a goal commitment to limit drinking.
It was followed by another text on Sunday to inquire about actual drinking and give tailored feedback aimed at reducing alcohol consumption.
Six months after the end of the trial, participants who were exposed to the full text-message intervention reported an average of one less binge drinking day per month.
There also was a 12 percent reduced incidence of binge drinking.
“The text message-based intervention is scalable and seems to produce meaningful, potentially life-saving results,” Dr Suffoletto added in an article appeared in the journal PLOS ONE.