Electronic programs designed to curb drinking do not reduce alcohol use in the long term, a new study finds.
These programs may produce small reductions in alcohol consumption in the first six months, but there is little evidence for longer-term, clinically significant effects, the researchers report in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
The study looked at programs delivered by CD-ROM, desktop computers in clinics, online delivery, mobile applications, or interactive voice response on the phone or computer.
"At this point, the effects of the available brief electronic interventions are small, and evidence that they help people to drink within recommended limits is lacking," said lead researcher Eric Dedert of Duke University School of Medicine. "However, electronic interventions for alcohol misuse hold significant promise, and there is a need to develop more intensive interventions."
The researchers reviewed 28 previous studies on electronic programs designed to reduce drinking, HealthDay reports.
The most common programs consisted of one-time interventions, in which a person enters information about how much they drink, and then receives information on how their drinking compares with their peer group. Other programs used goal setting and providing information on the negative effects of drinking on health and overall functioning.
Dr. James Garbutt, a professor of psychiatry from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, told HealthDay, "These data suggest that stronger electronic interventions, possibly including interventions from a live human being, may be necessary to attain more meaningful improvements in drinking behavior."