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Digital Therapeutic Intervention for Women in the UK Armed Forces Who Consume Alcohol at a Hazardous or Harmful Level: Protocol for a Randomized Controlled Trial

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  • Grace Williamson
  • Ewan Carr
  • Nicola T Fear
  • Simon Dymond
  • Kate King
  • Amos Simms
  • Laura Goodwin
  • Dominic Murphy
  • Daniel Leightley
Article numbere51531
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>19/12/2023
<mark>Journal</mark>JMIR Research Protocols
Number of pages15
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Alcohol misuse is common in the United Kingdom Armed Forces (UKAF), with prevalence significantly higher than in the general population. To date, digital health initiatives to support alcohol misuse have focused on male individuals, who represent approximately 89% of the UKAF. However, female veterans drink disproportionally more than female members of the public. This 2-arm participant-blinded (single-blinded) confirmatory randomized controlled trial (RCT) aims to assess the efficacy of a brief alcohol intervention (DrinksRation) in reducing weekly self-reported alcohol consumption between baseline and a 3-month follow-up (day 84) among women who have served in the UKAF. In this 2-arm single-blinded RCT, a smartphone app that includes interactive user-focused features tailored toward the needs of female veterans and designed to enhance participants' motivations to reduce the amount of alcohol they consume is compared with the UK Chief Medical Officer guidance on alcohol consumption. The trial will be conducted among women who have served at least 1 day of paid service in the UKAF. Recruitment, consent, and data collection will be carried out automatically through the DrinksRation app or the BeAlcoholSmart platform. The primary outcome is change in self-reported weekly alcohol consumption between baseline (day 0) and the 3-month follow-up (day 84) measured using the Timeline Follow Back for alcohol consumption. The secondary outcome is the change in the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test score measured at baseline and 3-month follow-up between the control and intervention groups. The process evaluation measures include (1) app use and (2) usability ratings as measured by the mHealth App Usability Questionnaire. RCT recruitment will begin in January 2024 and last for 5 months. We aim to complete all data collection, including interviews, by May 2024. This study will assess whether a smartphone app tailored to the needs of women who have served in the UKAF is efficacious in reducing self-reported alcohol consumption. If successful, the digital therapeutics platform could be used not only to support women who have served in the UKAF but also for other conditions and disorders.