Personalized Drinking Feedback: A Meta-Analysis of In-Person Versus Computer-Delivered Interventions

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Abstract

Objective:

Alcohol misuse is a significant public health concern. Personalized feedback interventions (PFIs) involve the use of personalized information about one's drinking behaviors and can be delivered in person or via computer. The relative efficacy of these delivery methods remains an unanswered question. The primary aim of the current meta-analysis was to identify and directly compare randomized clinical trials of in-person PFIs and computer-delivered PFIs.

Method:

A total of 14 intervention comparisons from 13 manuscripts, of which 9 were college samples, were examined: in-person PFIs (N = 1,240; 49% female; 74% White) and computer-delivered PFIs (N = 1,201; 53% female; 73% White). Independent coders rated sample characteristics, study information, study design, intervention content, and study outcomes.

Results:

Weighted mean effect sizes were calculated using random-effects models. At short follow-up (≤4 months), there were no differences between in-person PFIs and computer-delivered PFIs on any alcohol use variable or alcohol-related problems. At long follow-up (>4 months), in-person PFIs were more effective than computer-delivered PFIs at impacting overall drinking quantity (d = .18) and drinks per week (d = .19). These effects were not moderated by sample characteristics.

Conclusions:

For assessing alcohol outcomes at shorter follow-ups, there were no differences between delivery modality. At longer follow-ups, in-person PFIs demonstrated some advantages over computer-delivered PFIs. We encourage researchers to continue to examine direct comparisons between these delivery modalities and to further examine the efficacy of in-person PFIs at longer follow-ups.

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