• Open Access

Web-based alcohol intervention for Māori university students: double-blind, multi-site randomized controlled trial

Authors


Correspondence to: Kypros Kypri, Centre for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Newcastle, Callghan, NSW 2308, Australia. E-mail: kypros.kypri@newcastle.edu.au

Abstract

Aims

Like many indigenous peoples, New Zealand Māori bear a heavy burden of alcohol-related harm relative to their non-indigenous compatriots, and disparities are greatest among young adults. We tested the effectiveness of web-based alcohol screening and brief intervention (e-SBI) for reducing hazardous drinking among Māori university students.

Design

Parallel, double-blind, multi-site, randomized controlled trial.

Setting

Seven of New Zealand's eight universities.

Participants

In April 2010, we sent e-mail invitations to all 6697 17–24-year-old Māori students to complete a brief web questionnaire including the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT)-C, a screening tool for hazardous and harmful drinking. Those screening positive were computer randomized to: <10 minutes of web-based alcohol assessment and personalized feedback (intervention) or screening alone (control).

Measurements

We conducted a fully automated 5-month follow-up assessment with observers and participants blinded to study hypotheses, design and intervention delivery. Pre-determined primary outcomes were: (i) frequency of drinking, (ii) amount consumed per typical drinking occasion, (iii) overall volume of alcohol consumed and (iv) academic problems.

Findings

Of the participants, 1789 were hazardous or harmful drinkers (AUDIT-C ≥ 4) and were randomized: 850 to control, 939 to intervention. Follow-up assessments were completed by 682 controls (80%) and 733 intervention group members (78%). Relative to controls, participants receiving intervention drank less often [RR = 0.89; 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.82–0.97], less per drinking occasion (RR = 0.92; 95% CI: 0.84–1.00), less overall (RR = 0.78; 95% CI: 0.69–0.89) and had fewer academic problems (RR = 0.81; 95% CI: 0.69–0.95).

Conclusions

Web-based screening and brief intervention reduced hazardous and harmful drinking among non-help-seeking Māori students in a large-scale pragmatic trial. The study has wider implications for behavioural intervention in the important but neglected area of indigenous health.

Ancillary