Engagement with motivational interviewing and cognitive behavioral therapy components of a web-based alcohol intervention, elicitation of change talk and sustain talk, and impact on drinking outcomes: Secondary data analysis

Ajla Mujcic, Stuart Linke, Fiona L. Hamilton, Alexandria Phillips, Zarnie Khadjesari

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4 Citations (Scopus)
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Background: Down Your Drink (DYD) is a widely used unguided web-based alcohol moderation program for the general public based on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and motivational interviewing (MI); it provides users with many opportunities to enter free-text responses.

Objective: The aim of this study was to assess participants’ use of key CBT and MI components, the presence of change talk and sustain talk within their responses, and whether these data are associated with drinking outcomes after 3 months.

Methods: An exploratory secondary data analysis was conducted on data collected in 2008 from the definitive randomized trial of DYD (N=503). Past week alcohol use at baseline and 3-month follow-up were measured with the TOT-AL. Covariates included baseline alcohol use, age, gender, education level, and word count of the responses. Use of MI and CBT components and presence of change talk and sustain talk were coded by two independent coders (Cohen κ range 0.91-1). Linear model regressions on the subsample of active users (n=410) are presented along with a negative binomial regression.

Results: The most commonly used component was the listing of pros and cons of drinking. The number of listed high-risk situations was associated with lower alcohol use at 3-month follow-up (Badj −2.15, 95% CI −3.92 to −0.38, P=.02). Findings on the effects of the percentage of change talk and the number of listed strategies to deal with high-risk situations were inconsistent.

Conclusions: An unguided web-based alcohol moderation program can elicit change talk and sustain talk. This secondary analysis suggests that the number of listed high-risk situations can predict alcohol use at 3-month follow-up. Other components show inconsistent findings and should be studied further.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere17285
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Medical Internet Research
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2020


  • alcohol use
  • cognitive behavioural therapy
  • digital health
  • eHealth
  • engagement
  • motivational interviewing
  • self-management

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