We examined the feasibility and acceptability of digital screening and brief intervention (d-SBI) for alcohol misuse in college students; the effectiveness of d-SBI was our secondary outcome. We also explored the barriers and facilitators of d-SBI.
The study design is a mixed-methods, pilot, and cluster randomized trial. Five colleges from a northern city in India were randomly allocated to d-SBI and control groups. One hundred and ninety-one students were screened, and 25 (male = 23 and female = 2) participants (age 19.62 ± 2.58 years) fulfilled eligibility. All participants completed follow-up assessments at 3 months. In-depth interviews were done with 11 participants. Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test (AUDIT) based screening brief intervention was provided on a web portal- or mobile application in the d-SBI group. The control group received digital screening and brief education. Direct questions and usage statistics assessed the measurement acceptability of the intervention. We compared the change in AUDIT scores in the intervention groups over 3 months post-intervention. Thematic analyses of transcripts of interviews were done by inductive coding.
Most participants reported that d-SBI was user-friendly (80%), advice was appropriate (80%), and perceived it to be useful (72%). Ninety-six percent of users, who logged in, completed screening. There was a significant decrease in AUDIT scores both in d-SBI (p < .001) and control groups (p < .001). Time and group significantly affected the mean AUDIT score, but time × group interaction was non-significant. Thematic analysis revealed six overarching themes.
Digital SBI for alcohol misuse is acceptable, feasible, and possibly effective among college students from low-resource settings.