Interventions delivered via the Internet have the potential to address the problem of hazardous alcohol consumption at minimal incremental cost, with potentially major public health implications. It was hypothesised that providing access to a psychologically enhanced website would result in greater reductions in drinking and related problems than giving access to a typical alcohol website simply providing information on potential harms of alcohol. DYD-RCT Trial registration: ISRCTN 31070347.
A two-arm randomised controlled trial was conducted entirely on-line through the Down Your Drink (DYD) website. A total of 7935 individuals who screened positive for hazardous alcohol consumption were recruited and randomized. At entry to the trial, the geometric mean reported past week alcohol consumption was 46.0 (SD 31.2) units. Consumption levels reduced substantially in both groups at the principal 3 month assessment point to an average of 26.0 (SD 22.3) units. Similar changes were reported at 1 month and 12 months. There were no significant differences between the groups for either alcohol consumption at 3 months (intervention: control ratio of geometric means 1.03, 95% CI 0.97 to 1.10) or for this outcome and the main secondary outcomes at any of the assessments. The results were not materially changed following imputation of missing values, nor was there any evidence that the impact of the intervention varied with baseline measures or level of exposure to the intervention.
Findings did not provide support for the hypothesis that access to a psychologically enhanced website confers additional benefit over standard practice and indicate the need for further research to optimise the effectiveness of Internet-based behavioural interventions. The trial demonstrates a widespread and potentially sustainable demand for Internet based interventions for people with hazardous alcohol consumption, which could be delivered internationally.