Use of web-based screening and brief intervention for unhealthy alcohol use by older adults

BACKGROUND: While the number of older adults who engage in unhealthy drinking is increasing, few studies have examined the role of online alcohol screening and intervention tools for this population. The objective of this study was to describe characteristics of drinking behaviors among older adults who visited an alcohol screening and intervention website, and compare them to younger adults.

METHODS: We analyzed the responses of visitors to in 2013 (n=94,221). The prevalence of unhealthy alcohol use, behavioral change characteristics, and barriers to changing drinking were reported by age group (ages 21-49, 50-65, 66-80). Logistic regression models were used to identify characteristics associated with receiving a plan to either help cut back or quit drinking.

RESULTS: Of the entire study sample, 83% of respondents reported unhealthy drinking (exceeding daily or weekly recommended limits) with 84% among 21-49 year olds, 79% among 50-65 year olds, and 85% among adults over 65. Older adults reported fewer negative aspects of drinking, lower importance to change, highest confidence and fewer barriers to change, compared to younger adults. In the adjusted model, females (AOR=1.45, p<0.001) and older adults (AOR=1.55, p<0.002) were more likely to receive a plan to change drinking behaviors.

DISCUSSION: An online screening and intervention tool identified many older adults with unhealthy alcohol use behaviors and most were receptive to change. Web-based screening and interventions for alcohol use have the potential to be widely used among older adults.

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Full citation:
Han BH, Masukawa K, Rosenbloom D, Kuerbis A, Helmuth E, Liao DH, Moore AA (2018).
Use of web-based screening and brief intervention for unhealthy alcohol use by older adults
Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 86, 70-77. doi: 10.1016/j.jsat.2018.01.002. PMCID: PMC5808575.