mHealth Interventions to Reduce Alcohol Use in Young People: A Systematic Review of the Literature

Alison Hutton, Ivanka Prichard, Dean Whitehead, Susan Thomas, Mark Rubin, Elizabeth Sloand, Terrinieka W. Powell, Keri Frisch, Peter Newman, Tener Goodwin Veenema

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Harmful use of alcohol has serious effects on public health and is considered a significant risk factor for poor health. mHealth technology promotes health behavior change and enhances health through increased social opportunities for encouragement and support. It remains unknown whether these types of applications directly influence the health status of young people in reducing harmful levels of alcohol consumption. The purpose of this systematic review is to examine current evidence on the effectiveness of mHealth technology use in positively influencing alcohol-related behaviors of young people without known alcohol addiction. Relevant articles published from 2005 to January 2017 were identified through electronic searches of eight databases. Studies with interventions delivered by mHealth (social networking sites, SMS and mobile phone applications) to young people aged 12–26 years were included. Outcome measures were alcohol use, reduction in alcohol consumption or behavior change. Eighteen studies met the inclusion criteria. Interventions varied in design, participant characteristics, settings, length and outcome measures. Ten studies reported some effectiveness related to interventions with nine reporting a reduction in alcohol consumption. Use of mHealth, particularly text messaging (documented as SMS), was found to be an acceptable, affordable and effective way to deliver messages about reducing alcohol consumption to young people. Further research using adequately powered sample sizes in varied settings, with adequate periods of intervention and follow-up, underpinned by theoretical perspectives incorporating behavior change in young people’s use of alcohol, is needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)171-202
Number of pages32
JournalComprehensive Child and Adolescent Nursing
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2 2020


  • Mhealth
  • alcohol
  • behavior change
  • text messages
  • young people

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics


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