Web-based alcohol intervention: study of systematic attrition of heavy drinkers

Theda Radtke*, Mathias Ostergaard, Richard Cooke, Urte Scholz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Background: Web-based alcohol interventions are a promising way to reduce alcohol consumption because of their anonymity and the possibility of reaching a high numbers of individuals including heavy drinkers. However, Web-based interventions are often characterized by high rates of attrition. To date, very few studies have investigated whether individuals with higher alcohol consumption show higher attrition rates in Web-based alcohol interventions as compared with individuals with lower alcohol consumption. Objectives: The aim of this study was to examine the attrition rate and predictors of attrition in a Web-based intervention study on alcohol consumption. Methods: The analysis of the predictors of attrition rate was performed on data collected in a Web-based randomized control trial. Data collection took place at the University of Konstanz, Germany. A total of 898 people, which consisted of 46.8% males (420/898) and 53.2% females (478/898) with a mean age of 23.57 years (SD 5.19), initially volunteered to participate in a Web-based intervention study to reduce alcohol consumption. Out of the sample, 86.9% (781/898) were students. Participants were classified as non-completers (439/898, 48.9%) if they did not complete the Web-based intervention. Potential predictors of attrition were self-reported: alcohol consumption in the last seven days, per week, from Monday to Thursday, on weekends, excessive drinking behavior measured with the Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test (AUDIT), and drinking motives measured by the Drinking Motive Questionnaire (DMQ-R SF). Results: Significant differences between completers and non-completers emerged regarding alcohol consumption in the last seven days (B=-.02, P=.05, 95% CI [0.97-1.00]), on weekends (B=-.05, P=.003, 95% CI [0.92-0.98]), the AUDIT (B=-.06, P=.007, 95% CI [0.90-0.98], and the status as a student (B=.72, P=.001, 95% CI [1.35-3.11]). Most importantly, non-completers had a significantly higher alcohol consumption compared with completers. Conclusions: Hazardous alcohol consumption appears to be a key factor of the dropout rate in a Web-based alcohol intervention study. Thus, it is important to develop strategies to keep participants who are at high risk in Web-based interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere217
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Medical Internet Research
Volume19
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jun 2017

Bibliographical note

© Theda Radtke, Mathias Ostergaard, Richard Cooke, Urte Scholz. Originally published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (http://www.jmir.org), 28.06.2017. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on http://www.jmir.org/, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.

Keywords

  • alcohol drinking
  • attrition
  • dropout
  • Internet
  • intervention study
  • motivation
  • surveys and questionnaires
  • university student drinking

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