Efficacy of a web-based intervention with and without
guidance for employees with risky drinking: results of a
three-arm randomized controlled trial
, Dirk Lehr
, Michael Patrick Schaub
, Raquel Paz Castro
, Heleen Riper
& David Daniel Ebert
Department of Health Psychology and Applied Biological Psychology, Institute of Psychology, Leuphana University of Lueneburg, Lueneburg, Germany,
Institute for Public Health and Addiction, University of Zurich, Zürich, Switzerland,
Department of Clinical, Developmental and Neuro Psychology, Section of Clinical
Psychology, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Netherlands,
EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research, VU Medical Centre, Amsterdam, the Netherlands,
Department of Psychiatry, VU Medical Centre/GGZ inGeest, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
and Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, Friedrich-
Alexander-University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Erlangen, Germany
To test the efﬁcacy of a web-based alcohol intervention with and without guidance.
groups with primary end-point after 6 weeks.
Open recruitment in the German working population.
Adults (178 males/256 females, mean age 47 years) consuming at least 21/14 weekly standard units of
alcohol (SUA) and scoring ≥ 8/6 on the Alcohol Use Disorders Identiﬁcation Test.
Five web-based modules
including personalized normative feedback, motivational interviewing, goal setting, problem-solving and emotion
regulation during 5 weeks. One intervention group received an unguided self-help version (n=146) and the second
received additional adherence-focused guidance by eCoaches (n=144). Controls were on a waiting list with full access
to usual care (n=144).
Primary outcome was weekly consumed SUA after 6 weeks. SUA after 6 months
was examined as secondary outcome, next to numbers of participants drinking within the low-risk range, and general and
work-speciﬁc mental health measures.
All groups showed reductions of mean weekly SUA after 6 weeks
(unguided: À8.0; guided: À8.5; control: À3.2). There was no signiﬁcant difference between the unguided and guided
intervention (P=0.324). Participants in the combined intervention group reported signiﬁcantly fewer SUA than controls
[B=À4.85, 95% conﬁdence interval (CI)=À7.02 to À2.68, P < 0.001]. The intervention groups also showed signiﬁcant
reductions in SUA consumption after 6 months (B=À5.72, 95% CI=À7.71 to À3.73, P < 0.001) and improvements
regarding general and work-related mental health outcomes after 6 weeks and 6 months.
alcohol intervention, administered with or without personal guidance, signiﬁcantly reduced mean weekly alcohol
consumption and improved mental health and work-related outcomes in the German working population.
Keywords Alcohol, drinking, employee, internet, mental health, occupational health, training, treatment.
Correspondence to: Leif Boß, Department of Health Psychology and Applied Biological Psychology, Institute of Psychology, Leuphana University of Lueneburg,
Universitaetsallee 1, 21335 Lueneburg, Germany. E-mail: email@example.com
Submitted 6 May 2017; initial review completed 29 June 2017; ﬁnal version accepted 27 October 2017
Alcohol consumption is an important risk factor for
conditions like cancer, cardiovascular disease, and mental
and behavioral disorders [1–3]. It is also associated with
considerable economic costs, which include sick leave
and impaired productivity at work .
Among a multitude of risk factors, several studies have
highlighted associations between speciﬁc work-related
factors — like job strain , long work hours , and
effort-reward imbalance [7,8] — and alcohol consump-
tion. Concurrently, workplaces provide opportunities to
deliver alcohol-related interventions (e.g., via health pro-
motion programs, alcohol policies, or screening and brief
interventions) . While some studies have revealed small
effects on alcohol consumption [10–12], others failed to
demonstrate any beneﬁcial effects among subjects offered
such interventions relative to controls . In Germany,
health insurance companies have been legally obligated
to offer and reimburse for preventative measures to reduce
© 2017 The Authors. Addiction published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Society for the Study of Addiction. Addiction, 113,635–646
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