Face-to-face interventions produce stronger and longer effects in restraining problematic college drinking compared to computer-delivered interventions (CDIs), says a new study published in the Clinical Psychology Review.
The researchers analyzed 48 studies involving more than 37,000 students who received either in-person or computer-delivered intervention and found that while both strategies have positive effects, only face-to-face counseling produces results that last beyond 14 weeks.
“If your resources are limited, and resources always are, and that’s all that you can field for your institution, then offering a computer-delivered intervention is better than nothing,” Kate Carey, lead author and professor of behavioral and social sciences in Brown University’s Program in Public Health and a researcher at the Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies, said in the ScienceDaily.com report.
Carey and colleagues also found that women are less likely to benefit from computer-delivered interventions than men.
The team conducted the study to analyze the techniques schools used to counsel students on alcohol consumption and assess what colleges were really gaining by employing computers for student alcohol counseling.
“There has been a real upsurge in popularity and widespread implementation of all these CDIs, and for a long time it seemed the research was lagging,” Carey added. “We wanted to know if this upsurge is really a good thing”
Carey noted that one of the factors that weakens the effects of CDIs is the inability of a computer to hold a student’s attention. Additionally, she found evidence that some CDIs are delivering content that undermines their efficacy.