Text messages to keep drinkers OnTrack to reduce alcohol intake

The OnTrack Alcohol program is an internet-based therapy that helps people reduce risky drinking levels using interactive tools such as graphs, videos and diaries.

Professor David Kavanagh, from the Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation (IHBI) at Queensland University of Technology (QUT), said the research team would test if text messaging was an effective way to support OnTrack users.

“Participants will be able to read motivating messages and advice sent regularly to their phone to encourage them to log-in and complete the program,” he said.

“Preliminary trials have shown that OnTrack has had strong success but some participants do not complete the program.

“Getting a text message is much more accessible than email, which participants may not have access to at critical times.”

Postgraduate clinical psychology student Charlotte von Schuckmann has developed the SMS support system. Examples of the text messages could include:

– Keep reminding yourself why you want to make this change. What will be better in your life if you stick this through?

Participants must consume more than 14 standard drinks per week or more than four drinks on any single occasion and must want to reduce their drinking to take part in the study, which is confidental.

“People don’t have to be considered alcohol abusers or alcohol dependent to take part,” Dr Kavanagh said.

“It’s for the average person who drinks too much and wants to cut down.”

Participants must be over 18 years old, be able to read English and have regular access to the internet and a mobile phone to take part.

Dr Kavanagh said QUT was one of the leading research institutions investigating internet-based therapies, which he said benefited people living in remote and rural areas who otherwise could not access psychological help.

He said OnTrack, which is designed by psychologists, offers free programs for people with diabetes, alcohol and depression, and mental illnesses.

For more information or to volunteer in this study, visit www.ontrack.org.au or call toll free on 1300 300 164.

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Media contact:
Stephanie Harrington, QUT media officer, 3138 1150, s[email protected]