The Moderating Effect of Educational Background on the Efficacy of a Computer-Based Brief Intervention Addressing the Full Spectrum of Alcohol Use: Randomized Controlled Trial

Publikation: Beitrag in FachzeitschriftForschungsartikelBeigetragenBegutachtung



Background: The alcohol-attributable burden of disease is high among socially disadvantaged individuals. Interventional efforts intending to have a public health impact should also address the reduction of social inequalities due to alcohol. Objective: The aim was to test the moderating role of educational background on the efficacy of a computer-based brief intervention addressing the full spectrum of alcohol use. Methods: We recruited 1646 adults from the general population aged 18 to 64 years (920 women, 55.9%; mean age 31 years; 574 with less than 12 years of school education, 34.9%) who reported alcohol use in the past year. The participants were randomly assigned a brief alcohol intervention or to assessment only (participation rate, 66.9%, 1646/2463 eligible persons). Recruitment took place in a municipal registry office in one German city. All participants filled out a self-administered, tablet-based survey during the recruitment process and were assessed 3, 6, and 12 months later by study assistants via computer-assisted telephone interviews. The intervention consisted of 3 computer-generated and individualized feedback letters that were sent via mail at baseline, month 3, and month 6. The intervention was based on the transtheoretical model of behavior change and expert system software that generated the feedback letters automatically according to previously defined decision rules. The outcome was self-reported change in number of alcoholic drinks per week over 12 months. The moderator was school education according to highest general educational degree (less than 12 years of education vs 12 years or more). Covariates were sex, age, employment, smoking, and alcohol-related risk level. Results: Latent growth modeling revealed that the intervention effect after 12 months was moderated by educational background (incidence rate ratio 1.38, 95% CI 1.08-1.76). Individuals with less than 12 years of school education increased their weekly alcohol use to a lesser extent when they received the intervention compared to assessment only (incidence rate ratio 1.30, 95% CI 1.05-1.62; Bayes factor 3.82). No difference was found between groups (incidence rate ratio 0.95, 95% CI 0.84-1.07; Bayes factor 0.30) among those with 12 or more years of school education. Conclusions: The efficacy of an individualized brief alcohol intervention was moderated by the participants' educational background. Alcohol users with less than 12 years of school education benefited, whereas those with 12 or more years did not. People with lower levels of education might be more receptive to the behavior change mechanisms used by brief alcohol interventions. The intervention approach may support the reduction of health inequalities in the population at large if individuals with low or medium education can be reached.


FachzeitschriftJMIR Public Health and Surveillance
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 30 Juni 2022

Externe IDs

PubMed 35771621
ORCID /0000-0001-9905-1999/work/145224141


Ziele für nachhaltige Entwicklung


  • brief intervention, drinking, prevention, public health, school education, screening