App helps people reduce their alcohol intake 

App helps people reduce their alcohol intake 

A free smartphone app, Drink Less, can help people who would benefit most from reducing their alcohol consumption to do so successfully. That’s according to a large randomised controlled trial funded by NIHR. 

The study, published in eClinicalMedicine, was led by researchers at UCL. It found that people randomly recommended to use the Drink Less app reduced their drinking by 39 units a week at six months. This was two more units a week on average than a control group which received standard NHS advice. 

There were 5,602 participants in the study. All were increasing or higher-risk drinkers interested in reducing their alcohol consumption. They were either sent a link to an NHS alcohol advice webpage, or a link to download the Drink Less app. 

Lead author Dr Melissa Oldham (UCL Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care) said: “These results show that the Drink Less app can be useful for people looking to reduce their alcohol consumption. 

“Reducing intake by an extra two units a week on average may seem small but is significant both in terms of preventing potential health harms as well as reducing costs to the NHS.” 

Senior author Dr Claire Garnett (UCL Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care and the University of Bristol), who led a team in developing the app while at UCL, said: “Many apps offer to support people to cut down their drinking but this is the first randomised controlled trial of an alcohol reduction app for the general population in the UK. 

“If people are going to use an app, it would be better if they tried one that had good evidence behind it. An app that is not effective may make it less likely for that person to try to reduce their drinking in future.” 

The team also estimated that if the Drink Less app were rolled out widely, it would save the NHS hundreds of millions of pounds over 20 years. 

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