Drinker’s Check-up is a computer-based, brief motivational intervention that assesses alcohol use, alcohol-related problems, and readiness to change, provides personalized normative feedback, and identifies those who might benefit from alcohol treatment.
Drinker’s Check-up provides integrated assessment, feedback and assistance with decision-making, and can be used with a wide range of people, from those who are unsure about their drinking to those who are clearly experiencing an alcohol use disorder. The program uses information gathered about readiness to change to tailor activities and feedback to individual users. It can be used as a stand-alone intervention or as a prelude to alcohol treatment. There is a follow-up module that repeats the assessment component of the intervention for up to three follow-up points.
Link to commercial site here.
Computer-based (Windows® program)
Brief Motivational Intervention
Quantity and Frequency of Alcohol Use
Peak Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC)
Motivation to Change
Young Adults (18-30)
The Drinker’s Check-up: 12-month outcomes of a controlled clinical trial of a stand-alone software program from problem drinkers.
Hester, RK, Squires, DD, Delaney, HD. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment. 2005;28:159-169. PMID: 15780546.
Summary: In this randomized controlled trial, 61 people recruited from the community were assigned to receive the Drinker’s Check-up intervention either immediately (n=35) or after waiting four weeks (n=26). The immediate group received the intervention at baseline and was re-assessed at 4 weeks, 8 weeks and 12 months. The wait-list group received the intervention at 4 weeks and was re-assessed at 8 weeks and 12 months.
Overall, the intervention was associated with decreases in average drinks per day, average drinks per drinking day, estimated peak BAC, and symptoms of alcohol dependence, as well as increases in motivation to change. The biggest changes in both groups were seen in the first 4 weeks after the intervention, but this was not as pronounced for the wait-list group. While most people did not become abstinent, the immediate intervention group showed a nearly 50% reduction in alcohol use over the course of the study.
Take Away: The Drinker’s Check-up shows promise in facilitating reductions in alcohol use and improvements in motivation to change alcohol use behavior.
Mediating mechanisms of a military web-based alcohol intervention.
Williams J, Herman-Stahl M, Calvin SL, Pemberton M, Bradshaw M. Drug and Alcohol Dependence. 2009;100:248–257. PMID: 19081206.
Summary: This is a large, randomized controlled trial of the Drinker’s Check-up, the Alcohol Savvy (an alcohol abuse prevention program), and two control groups. The main aim of the study was to examine four sets of mediators that might explain how the programs work: perceived social norms, concern about drinking, readiness to change, and stress management. Participants, recruited from eight different military bases, were assessed at baseline and at 1-month and 6-month follow-ups. At 1-month follow up, Drinker’s Check-up was associated with significant decreases in self-reported drinking days, occurrence of a binge, heavy drinking status, estimated peak BAC, drinks per day, and days perceived drunk. At 6-months, Drinker’s Check-up was associated with significant decreases in drinking days and drinks per day. Path modeling showed that perceived social norms was a strong mediator of the effects of Drinker’s Check-up on almost all drinking outcomes.
Take Away: The Drinker’s Check-up resulted in significant short-term reductions in a number of drinking outcomes. Perceived social norms are an important mechanism for change.
The college drinker’s check-up: Outcomes of two randomized clinical trials of a computer-delivered intervention
Hester RK, Delaney HD, Campbell W. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors. 2011. 26(1):1-12. PMCID: PMC3246033.
Summary: This study consisted of two experiments using a version of the Drinker’s Check-up modified specifically for college students, the College Drinker’s Check-up. Eligible participants were students who were classified as heavy drinkers (self-report of four or more drinks per occasion for women, five or more for men, at least once in the last two weeks and an estimated peak BAC of .08 or more).
Trial 1: In this randomized controlled trial participants were assigned to the College Drinker’s Check-up or assessment only (control). Alcohol use and alcohol-related problems were assessed at baseline, and 1-month and 12-month post-intervention follow-ups. Both groups showed reductions in drinking outcomes. There was no significant group difference, but the intervention group trended toward greater improvements. The absence of a group difference may have been due to assessment effects.
Trial 2: This randomized controlled trial was designed to separate assessment effects from the effects of the College Drinker’s Check-up by way of a delayed assessment with the control group. Intervention participants were assessed at baseline and 1-month and 12-month follow-ups, while the delayed-assessment control group wasn’t assessed until the 1-month point (and again at 12 months). The College Drinker’s Check-up was significantly related to all drinking outcomes and was significantly better than the control group. Effects were strong (effect sizes in the large range) e.g., estimated peak BAC for heavy drinking episodes dropped by 47%.
Take Away: The College Drinker’s Check-up was highly effective in helping heavy-drinking college students decrease problematic drinking behavior. The presence of assessment effects indicate that assessment may be a helpful brief intervention in and of itself, and may have clinical utility perhaps as an initial intervention while people are on a waiting list for treatment services.