Study to adapt US app to help NZ’ers manage alcohol abuse

Alcohol abuse significantly increases a person’s risk of physical, mental and emotional harm. It can also negatively impact upon families and communities. Although there are beneficial and cost-effective interventions available from a number of sources to support people who are drinking at harmful levels, few drinkers receive help to reduce their alcohol consumption.
Mobile-phone based alcohol interventions have the potential to address the gap between the population ‘in need’ of treatment and those actually engaged in treatment. The broad reach of mobile-phone based interventions can also support self-management of alcohol consumption and act as a conduit for more intensive treatment or enhance existing treatment utilization.

The US-designed ‘Step Away’ app is a smartphone-delivered health intervention designed to help people reduce or stop drinking alcohol, and encourage engagement with substance abuse-related support services. However, in its current form the app is not suitable for roll-out in NZ as it incorporates North American drinking norms and safe drinking guidelines, it uses numerous “Americanisms” and the imperial measurement system, and it links to US-based care services.

A study, funded by the Health Research Council of New Zealand, is therefore planned to create a NZ version of ‘Step Away’ and determine how effective it is in a NZ population. The study involves researchers from the University of Auckland and the University of Alaska.

HRC media release

For further information please contact Associate Professor Natalie Walker


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