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Qualitative evaluation of web-based digital intervention to prevent and reduce excessive alcohol use and harm among young people aged 14-15 years: A “think-aloud” study

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Eileen KanerORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© Laura Elizabeth Tinner, Eileen Kaner, Claire Garnett, Siobhan Mitchell, Matthew Hickman, Rona Campbell, Georgina MacArthur.Background: In the United Kingdom, despite some downward trends in alcohol use among young people, over one-fifth of young people reported excessive alcohol use in the past month, which is associated with short- and long-term harm to health. Digital interventions to reduce alcohol use, such as websites, among young people present an appealing and cost-effective mode of intervention that can be integrated into the education system. However, relatively few school-based digital alcohol-focused interventions have been developed and evaluated for young people in the United Kingdom. Objective: This study aims to develop a novel web-based intervention, Rethink Alcohol, to prevent and reduce excessive alcohol use and related harm among young people aged between 14 and 15 years, and explore the views of young people, teachers, and youth workers in relation to the content, design, and usability of the intervention. Methods: Intervention development followed the person-based approach, using theories of social norms and social influence. Qualitative “Think-Aloud” interviews, either one-to-one or paired, were conducted while participants perused and worked through the web-based intervention, talking aloud. Participants included 20 young people (12 female, 8 male), 5 youth workers (4 female, 1 male), 3 teachers (2 male, 1 female), and 1 (male) clinical professional, recruited via youth groups and professional networks. Interviews were audio recorded, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed thematically. Results: The prototype web-based intervention included normative feedback, information, a quiz, interactive activities, and scenarios. On a rating scale of impressions from poor (1) to excellent (5), participants gave an average score of 3.6/5. A total of 5 themes were identified: content, credibility of the website, making the website easy to understand, design and navigation, and suitability for the audience. These themes reflected views that the content was interesting, credible, informative, and embodied a neutral and nonjudgmental tone, but stronger messaging was needed regarding social pressures and short-term risks regarding safety and risk behavior alongside clarity around pathways of risk; credibility and trustworthiness of information were critical features, determined in part, by the professionalism of design and referencing of sources of information provided; and messages should be succinct and come to life through design and interactive features. Conclusions: Together, the data illustrated the importance and challenge of communicating nuanced alcohol-focused public health messages to young people in concise, clear, nonjudgmental, and appealing ways. Young people report interest in clear, credible, neutral, and interactive messages regarding social pressures and short-term risks of alcohol use via a web-based intervention. There is scope for optimization and feasibility testing of the Rethink Alcohol intervention.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Tinner LE, Kaner E, Garnett C, Mitchell S, Hickman M, Campbell R, MacArthur G

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: JMIR Pediatrics and Parenting

Year: 2020

Volume: 3

Issue: 2

Online publication date: 15/12/2020

Acceptance date: 28/10/2020

Date deposited: 16/02/2021

ISSN (electronic): 2561-6722

Publisher: JMIR Publications Inc.


DOI: 10.2196/19749


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