A digital intervention addressing alcohol use problems (the “DayBreak” program): Quasi-experimental randomized controlled trial
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©Robert J Tait, Raquel Paz Castro, Jessica Jane Louise Kirkman, Jamie Christopher Moore, Michael P Schaub. Background: Alcohol use is prevalent in many societies and has major adverse impacts on health, but the availability of effective interventions limits treatment options for those who want assistance in changing their patterns of alcohol use. Objective: This study evaluated the new Daybreak program, which is accessible via mobile app and desktop and was developed by Hello Sunday Morning to support high-risk drinking individuals looking to change their relationship with alcohol. In particular, we compared the effect of adding online coaching via real-time chat messages (intervention group) to an otherwise self-guided program (control group). Methods: We designed the intervention as a randomized control trial, but as some people (n=48; 11.9%) in the control group were able to use the online coaching, the main analysis comprised all participants. We collected online surveys at one-month and three-months follow-up. The primary outcome was change in alcohol risk (measured with the alcohol use disorders identification test–consumption [AUDIT–C] score), but other outcomes included the number of standard drinks per week, alcohol-related days out of role, psychological distress (Kessler-10), and quality of life (EUROHIS-QOL). Markers of engagement with the program included posts to the site and comments on the posts of others. The primary analysis used Weighted Generalized Estimating Equations. Results: We recruited 398 people to the intervention group (50.2%) and 395 people to the control group (49.8%). Most were female (71%) and the mean age was 40.1 years. Most participants were classified as probably dependent (550, 69%) on the AUDIT–10, with 243 (31%) classified with hazardous or harmful consumption. We followed up with 334 (42.1%) participants at one month and 293 (36.9%) at three months. By three months there were significant improvements in AUDIT–C scores (down from mean 9.1 [SD 1.9] to 5.8 [SD 3.1]), alcohol consumed per week (down from mean 37.1 [SD 28.3] to mean 17.5 [SD 18.9]), days out of role (down from mean 1.6 [SD 3.6] to 0.5 [SD 1.6]), quality of life (up from 3.2 [SD 0.7] to 3.6 [SD 0.7]) and reduced distress (down from 24.8 [SD 7.0] to 19.0 [SD 6.6]). Accessing online coaching was not associated with improved outcomes, but engagement with the program (eg, posts and comments on the posts of others) were significantly associated with improvements (eg, in AUDIT–C, alcohol use and EUROHIS-QOL). Reduced alcohol use was found for both probably dependent (estimated marginal mean of 40.8 to 20.1 drinks) and hazardous or harmful alcohol users (estimated marginal mean of 22.9 to 11.9 drinks). Conclusions: Clinically significant reductions in alcohol use were found, as well as reduced alcohol risk (AUDIT–C) and days out of role. Importantly, improved alcohol-related outcomes were found for both hazardous or harmful and probably dependent drinkers. Since October 2016, Daybreak has reached more than 50,000 participants. Therefore, there is the potential for the program to have an impact on alcohol-related problems at a population health level, importantly including an effect on probably dependent drinkers.
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