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A feasibility study of short message service text messaging as a surveillance tool for alcohol consumption and vehicle for interventions in University students

Moore, Simon Christopher ORCID:, Crompton, Katherine, van Goozen, Stephanie Helena Maria ORCID:, van den Bree, Marianne Bernadette ORCID:, Bunney, Julia and Lydall, Emma Sian 2013. A feasibility study of short message service text messaging as a surveillance tool for alcohol consumption and vehicle for interventions in University students. BMC Public Health 13 , 1011. 10.1186/1471-2458-13-1011

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Background Practitioners who come into contact with the intoxicated, such as those in unscheduled care, often have limited resources to provide structured interventions. There is therefore a need for cost-effective alcohol interventions requiring minimal input. This study assesses the barriers, acceptability and validity of text messaging to collect daily alcohol consumption data and explores the feasibility of a text-delivered intervention in an exploratory randomised controlled trial. Methods Study I. Participants (n = 82) completed the initial online screening survey and those eligible were asked each day, for 157 days via text message, to reply with the number of alcohol units consumed the previous day. Analyses compared standard measures of hazardous consumption with self-report alcohol use. Attrition and sampling biases were examined. Study I included secondary exploratory analyses using data from 70 participants to determine associations between events (including Christmas and other celebratory occasions) and consumption. Study I further included the thematic analysis of semi-structured interview data and assessed the feasibility of and barriers to surveillance and interventions delivered through text messaging. Developing findings from Study I, Study II developed an exploratory randomised control trial that delivered a single message on monthly alcohol expenditure in order to assess effect size and test generalisability. Results Self-report alcohol consumption data was significantly associated with FAST and AUDIT scores. Attrition from the study was not associated with alcohol use. Greater alcohol use was observed on Fridays, Saturdays and Wednesdays as were notable celebratory events. Interview data indicated that text messaging was acceptable to participants and preferred over email and web-based methods. The exploratory randomised controlled trial suggested that a simple text delivered intervention might be effective in eliciting a reduction in alcohol consumption in a future trial. Conclusions The ubiquity of mobile telephones and the acceptability of text messaging suggests that this approach can be developed as a surveillance tool to collect high frequency consumption data to identify periods of vulnerability and that it can offer a platform through which targeted interventions can be delivered.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Dentistry
Neuroscience and Mental Health Research Institute (NMHRI)
MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics (CNGG)
Subjects: R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
R Medicine > RK Dentistry
Publisher: BioMed Central
ISSN: 1471-2458
Funders: ERAB (0904)
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 05 Jan 2024 02:11

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