A Randomized Controlled Trial of the Effectiveness of Combinations of ‘Why to Reduce’ and ‘How to Reduce’ Alcohol Reduction Communications
- Evidence on the efficacy of population-level alcohol control programs is needed.
- Combining ‘why to reduce’ intake with ‘how to reduce’ messages can be effective.
- Only some forms of ‘how to reduce’ messages appear to be effective.
- Encouraging alcohol users to count their alcoholic drinks can assist them reduce consumption.
Alcohol is a major source of harm worldwide. The aim of this study was to experimentally assess the effects of exposing Australian adult alcohol users to combinations of ‘why to reduce’ and ‘how to reduce’ alcohol reduction messages.
Three online surveys were administered over six weeks:
- Time 1 at baseline (n = 7,995),
- Time 2 at three weeks post-baseline (n = 4,588), and
- Time 3 at six weeks post-baseline (n = 2,687).
Participants were randomly assigned to one of eight conditions:
- a control condition;
- a ‘why to reduce’ television advertisement;
- (3–5) one of three ‘how to reduce’ messages referring to the following protective behavioral strategies (PBSs): Keep count of your alcoholic beverages, Decide how many alcoholic beverages and stick to it, It’s okay to say no; and
- (6–8) the television advertisement combined with each PBS message individually.
Intention-to-treat analyses were conducted to determine effects of condition assignment on changes over time in attempts to reduce alcohol consumption and amount of alcohol consumed.
Participants assigned to the ‘TV ad’ and ‘TV ad + Keep count of your alcoholic beverages PBS’ conditions reported significant increases in attempts to reduce alcohol consumption.
Only participants assigned to the ‘TV ad + Keep count of your alcoholic beverages PBS’ condition exhibited a significant reduction in alcohol consumed (−0.87 alcoholic beverages per person per week).
Well-executed ‘why to reduce’ alcohol reduction advertisements can encourage alcohol users to attempt to reduce their alcohol intake. These ads may be effectively supplemented by specific ‘how to reduce’ messages designed to encourage alcohol users to monitor their intake.