Smaart: Phone App Reportedly Helps Students in Decreasing Alcohol Drinking

A smartphone app designed to intervene in alcohol consumption reportedly aided university students in reducing their overall alcohol intake and heavy drinking days, according to a study published in The British Medical Journal (BMJ) and published in Medical Xpress.  

(Photo : DANIEL LEAL/AFP via Getty Images)
Customers enjoy drinks at the Mad Hatter pub and hotel, operated by Fuller’s, in London on November 30, 2022. At The Mad Hatter pub, everything is ready: the huge Christmas tree, the luminous and golden garlands.

Unhealthy Alcohol Consumption

Unhealthy alcohol consumption is a significant health risk for individuals aged 15 to 49, especially among adult students. To address this, researchers developed the Smaart app to promote healthier drinking habits among this demographic.

The study involved 1,770 university students in Switzerland who exhibited signs of unhealthy alcohol use based on a questionnaire assessment. These students, from four higher education institutions in Switzerland, consumed an average of 8.59 standard alcoholic drinks weekly and engaged in heavy drinking for about 3.53 days per month. 

Heavy drinking was defined as a minimum of five standard drinks for men and four for women, with a standard alcoholic drink containing 10-12 g of ethanol.

Participants were randomly assigned to either an intervention group that downloaded the app or a comparison group that received gift vouchers for completing an initial questionnaire but did not receive support for reducing their drinking. 

The intervention group experienced a significant reduction in alcohol consumption over 12 months compared to the comparison group-10% fewer standard drinks weekly and 11% fewer heavy drinking days per month.

Read Also: Microsoft Teams Mobile Gets Upgrade in the Form of Faster Meeting Processes, Better Presentation, and Easier Account Switching

Smaart’s Functions

The app provides six functions to help users monitor their drinking habits and assess their impacts on health such as personalized feedback, estimated blood alcohol content and associated risks, a self-monitoring tool, goal setting tool, a designated driver tool for capturing images for the app to select a sober driver randomly. Lastly, it included fact sheets on alcohol’s health effects.

The app was used up to 403 times per user on average over 12 months. The study acknowledges limitations, such as potential under-reporting due to self-reporting and the possibility of the comparison group accessing the app through friends in the intervention group.

The researchers conclude that providing access to the app effectively reduced alcohol consumption among university students with self-reported unhealthy alcohol use. 

This intervention required fewer resources than face-to-face approaches, avoiding the need to hire specialists or dedicate campus spaces. The app is now available for both Apple and Android smartphones.

In an accompanying editorial, experts note that the reduction in alcohol consumption in the intervention group, equivalent to half a Swiss standard drink per week, could be scaled up at low cost. 

However, they caution that such interventions are not a singular solution to global targets like the WHO’s aim to reduce harmful alcohol use by 20% by 2030.

The UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recommends digital and mobile health interventions alongside existing services to help reduce alcohol intake. 

The findings of the study were published in BMJ.

Related Article: YouTube Removes False Claims About Cancer Treatments Following Updated Medical Misinformation Guidelines


ⓒ 2023 All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

Source link