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.
Parallel, double-blind, multi-site, randomized controlled trial.
Seven of New Zealand's eight universities.
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).
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.
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).
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.