Text Message Based Intervention

Impact Score55.5
Students Impacted25%

What is a Text Message Based Intervention?

Text messaging-based interventions provide tailored text messages addressing social norms, outcome expectations, self-efficacy, and planning processes. Text messaging is considered to be a brief Ecological Momentary Intervention (EMI). This type of intervention reaches students in the moment or close to the moment when they are making drinking related decisions. Researchers have tested different types of text messages. For example, one study looked at the use of text messages relaying the health consequences of drinking (e.g. ‘Long term drinking can increase the risk of a stroke. Start good drinking habits now’) and the social consequences of drinking (e.g. ‘Think about your mates when you drink, you can ruin their nights too’). Text messaging has many benefits including its sustainably to deliver behavioral support to students in the moment they need it.

Research findings

There has been a flurry of research on text message-based intervention in the past five years. One study looked at a text messaging-based intervention called MobileCoach Alcohol. This intervention delivered individually tailored text messages addressing social norms, outcome expectations, self-efficacy, and planning processes. Students receiving the intervention decreased their risky single-occasion drinking by almost 6% compared to the control group which increased by 2.6% (Haug, 2017).

In another study students at two institutions received a text message intervention during orientation week. Students first reported their drinking behaviors via text and also received messages highlighting the potential social consequences of heavy alcohol use. Students in the intervention group consumed fewer drinks during orientation week and throughout the academic year at one institution, but no significant findings occurred at the second institution.

Among community college students, a six-week text message-based intervention – that consisted of alcohol facts, strategies to limit alcohol use and related risks, strategies promoting harm reduction and safe drinking, and motivational messages – resulted in reduced heavy drinking, negative consequences (Bock, 2016).

Issues and considerations

In the 2017 Riodan study the institution that was comprised of lower-risk drinkers saw significant decreases in drinking while the other institution did not. An earlier pilot study by Riodan also found that text message-based intervention resulted in less alcohol use for women, but not for men. Women tend to be lower-risk than men, so combined, these results suggest that a text messaging intervention may by for effective among lower-risk drinkers (Riodan, 2017).