New smartphone app proves successful in helping UK veterans reduce alcohol consumption

A new smartphone app, made available to the public today, has proven successful in helping British veterans reduce alcohol consumption.

The 28-day short-term alcohol intervention app was tested with more than 120 British veterans as part of a trial funded by Forces in Mind Trust.

After using the Drinks:Ration app, veterans consumed 28 units less alcohol in a week (about 9 pints of standard British beer) than before, compared to a control group who only received government advice on drinking alcohol, who consumed 10.5 less units of alcohol.

the app, developed by researchers at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s College London, led by Dr. Daniel Leightley, and supported by Lancaster University and National Mental Health Charity Fighting stressis designed to help people keep track of their alcohol consumption.

Previous research has shown that alcohol abuse is higher in the UK Armed Forces than in the general population and persists after a person has left the service, particularly for those seeking help for mental illness. There is currently no app in the UK designed to help the UK armed forces community manage the amount of alcohol they drink.

The app focuses on individual users’ motivations to drink and promotes positive behavioral changes by leveraging personalized messaging and data-driven infographics. The app is also designed to address the shorter-term effects of alcohol, such as its impact on relationships or finances, and to provide personalized messages on a daily basis. Most of the users in this study were from Combat Stress and likely had depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder.

Following this successful trial, the UK Ministry of Defense, led by Surgeon Commander Kate King, will test the Drinks:Ration app to assess its use and benefits to the serving community. The trial will start later this year.

Our trial showed that the Drinks:Ration app was effective in reducing alcohol abuse in help-seeking veterans in the medium term. This could make it a valuable resource for the armed forces community as they await treatment and support. This digital intervention can provide a new, low-cost alternative to conventional help seeking and be as effective as face-to-face interventions. I’m glad the UK Ministry of Defense is going to test the app with the service community.

dr. Daniel Leightley, Principal Investigator at the IoPPN, King’s College London

Professor Dominic Murphy, Head of Research at Combat Stress said: “Our research shows that the Drinks: Ration app helped veterans make positive changes to their drinking. We look forward to rolling out this app more widely to help the veteran community to support.”

dr. Laura Goodwin, Senior Lecturer in Mental Health at Lancaster University, said: “We know from our research that veterans with a mental health problem often coexist with heavy drinking, but this group may find it difficult to access support. they need. This study has highlighted the positive benefits of providing digital support and how it can help reduce alcohol use in veterans with co-existing problems.”

Tom McBarnet, Chief Executive (Acting) at Forces in Mind Trust, said: “The King’s IoPPN team has developed an effective short-term tool to reduce harmful alcohol consumption in the armed forces community and improve the positive mental health of veterans in the longer term. to support Health.

“It’s important to note that not all veterans who have drinking or mental health issues will seek help, and it’s equally important to continue to find ways to connect with those who could benefit from these types of interventions. The evidence is clear that this is an effective and inexpensive tool to support veterans, and we look forward to developing its further capabilities.”

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