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Electronic Screening and Brief Intervention (e-SBI)


e-SBI is a web-based program developed to screen individuals for risky alcohol use and provide a brief intervention.

The e-SBI involves an initial 2-3 minute alcohol use assessment, followed by a 10-15 minute brief intervention (for those meeting criteria for hazardous alcohol use). The program summarizes past month alcohol consumption, estimates Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) for the heaviest recent drinking episode, and gives feedback regarding individuals’ alcohol risk status. In addition, e-SBI provides normative feedback about alcohol use based on national norms and current recommendations. Contact information for local medical and alcohol counseling programs is also available through e-SBI.


Theoretical Approaches:
Personalized Feedback
Motivational Interviewing (MI)

Target Substance(s):

Target Outcome(s):
Personal consequences
Academic consequences

Young Adults (18-30)
Adults (30+)



College health center
Public hospital

Geographic Location:

New Zealand


  • Web-based screening and brief intervention for hazardous drinking: A double-blind randomized controlled trial.

    Kypri K, Saunders JB, Williams SM, McGee RO, Langley JD, Cashell-Smith ML, Gallagher SJ. Addiction. 2004. 99(11): 1410-1417. PMID: 15500594.

    Summary: This study reports the initial results of a double-blind, randomized controlled trial. Students entering a university health center were asked to complete a brief questionnaire. Any students screening positive for hazardous alcohol use (n=104) were randomized to receive e-SBI or an informational pamphlet. Alcohol use frequency, quantity, and consequences were assessed with online questionnaires at baseline, 6-week, and 6-month follow-ups. At the 6-week follow-up, students getting e-SBI had a 26% reduction in total alcohol consumption, a 37% reduction in heavy drinking episodes, and a 24% reduction in alcohol-related social problems. These decreases were significantly larger than decreases in alcohol use among students receiving the informational pamphlet. At 6 months, students getting e-SBI had fewer alcohol-related personal problems than students receiving the informational pamphlet.

    Take Away: Compared to an informational pamphlet, e-SBI is associated with reduced alcohol consumption, heavy drinking episodes, and alcohol-related social problems. Only changes in alcohol-related social problems appear to endure 6 months after the intervention.

    Follow-Up of Previous Study:

    Assessment may conceal therapeutic benefit: Findings from a randomized controlled trial for hazardous drinking.

    Kypri K, Langley JD, Saunders JB, Cashell-Smith ML. Addiction. 2007. 102(1): 62-70. PMID: 17207124

    Summary: In this article, the authors investigated whether an additional 4-week assessment improved outcomes for individuals receiving an informational pamphlet only. The authors continued recruiting college students for the randomized controlled trial described above (Kypri et al, 2004). This article focused only on the students randomly assigned to receive an informational pamphlet- the control group. Participants in this group were randomly selected to receive the pamphlet only (n=146), or the pamphlet plus an additional 10-minute web-based assessment a month later (n=147). During the additional assessment, participants answered questions about their alcohol use through a web-based survey. All participants completed assessments at baseline, 6-month, and 12-month follow-ups. Although alcohol use was not significantly different across groups at the 6-month follow-up, the group receiving the additional assessment had decreased alcohol use and alcohol-related consequences at 12-month follow-up. Compared to the pamphlet-only group, the group with the additional assessment had 18% less total alcohol consumption, 34% less heavy episodic drinking, and 19% fewer alcohol-related personal problems.

    Take Away: Brief web-based assessments may contribute to decreased alcohol use and related problems.

  • Randomized controlled trial of web-based alcohol screening and brief intervention in primary care.

    Kypri K, Langley JD, Saunders JB, Cashell-Smith ML, Herbison P. Archives of Internal Medicine. 2008. 168(5): 530-536. PMID: 18332300.

    Summary: A randomized trial of e-SBI was conducted in a college health center. Students attending appointments at the health center were randomly selected to be screened for risky alcohol use. Any consenting student with harmful alcohol use was randomized to single-session e-SBI, multi-session e-SBI, or to a control group. While the single-session e-SBI group received the intervention on one occasion, the multi-session e-SBI group completed the intervention three times (baseline, 1 month, and 6 months). The control group was given an informational pamphlet on hazardous alcohol use. Alcohol use frequency, quantity, social consequences, and academic consequences were measured at baseline, 6 months, and 9 months. Compared to the control group, participants in the single-session and the multi-session e-SBI groups had significantly lower alcohol consumption, drinking frequency, and academic consequences at 6 months. At 9 months, the single-session e-SBI group still consumed less alcohol and had fewer academic problems than the control group. Participants in the multi-session e-SBI group also reported fewer academic problems than the control group. The single- and multi-session e-SBIs were not directly compared.

    Take Away: For college students, both single- and multi-session e-SBIs decrease alcohol use frequency, consumption, and consequences more than an informational pamphlet.

  • Randomized controlled trial of proactive web-based alcohol screening and brief intervention for university students.

    Kypri K, Hallett J, Howat P, McManus A, Maycock B, Bowe S, Horton NJ. Archives of Internal Medicine. 2009. 169(16): 1508-1514. PMID: 19752409.

    Summary: e-SBI was compared to screening only in this randomized controlled trial. University students were randomly selected to complete a screening questionnaire. Students meeting criteria for unhealthy alcohol use were then randomly assigned to screening only (n=1,184) or to e-SBI (n=1,251). Although all participants completed 1- and 6-month assessments, the e-SBI group also received a personalized feedback booster session after the 1-month assessment. At the 1-month follow-up, the e-SBI group drank 17% less than the screening only group. The e-SBI group also drank significantly fewer drinks per occasional, had a lower risk of binge drinking, and consumed less alcohol overall. At the 6-month follow-up, the e-SBI group still drank 11% less than the screening only group, and continued to have reduced total alcohol consumption and binge drinking.

    Take Away: Adding a brief intervention to a screening program is more effective in reducing alcohol use than screening only.

  • Web-based alcohol intervention for Maori university students: Double-blind, multi-site randomized controlled trial.

    Kypri K, McCambridge J, Vater T, Bowe SJ, Saunders JB, Cunningham JA, Horton NJ. Addiction. 2013. 108(2):331-338. PMCID: PMC3588153.

    Summary: In this study, the authors tested the effectiveness of e-SBI for reducing alcohol use among Maori university students. Maori students at seven universities in New Zealand were asked to complete screening questionnaires for unhealthy alcohol use. A total of 1,789 students screened positive for risky alcohol use and were randomized to electronic screening only, or to e-SBI. Students were informed through an email that the study purpose was to examine student alcohol use over time, and were asked to complete surveys at two time points. Therefore, participants were unaware of the two different conditions. Participants were assessed at 6-month follow-up for changes in alcohol use and alcohol-related consequences. At follow-up, participants getting e-SBI had significantly larger reductions in frequency of drinking, volume of alcohol consumed, alcohol-related academic problems, and chronic harms from heavy drinking than screening only participants. This included an 11% decrease in the frequency of drinking and a 22% decrease in the volume of alcohol consumed.

    Take Away: e-SBI is effective in reducing alcohol use for Maori university students.

  • Development of an electronic alcohol screening and brief intervention program for hospital outpatients with unhealthy alcohol use.

    Johnson NA, Kypri K, Attia J. JMIR Research Protocols. 2013. 2(2):e36. PMCID: PMC3786128.

    Summary: The e-SBI program was modified for use with hospital outpatients and tested in this single-arm feasibility study. Outpatients (n=106) waiting to attend appointments completed a pen-and-paper screener for unhealthy alcohol use, and then were given access to e-SBI on a laptop. Ninety-three percent of participants who completed the screening questionnaire also completed e-SBI. Participants were sent questionnaires to assess their alcohol use and satisfaction with the program after leaving the hospital. Overall, participants were satisfied with e-SBI. They reported that the assessment portion of the program was easy to complete. Additionally, the majority stated that they would recommend the program to others. Nineteen percent of users reported decreasing their alcohol use after receiving feedback from the e-SBI program.

    Take Away: e-SBI is feasible and acceptable for hospital outpatients.

  • Web-based alcohol screening and brief intervention for university students: A randomized trial.

    Kypri K, Vater T, Bowe SJ, Saunders JB, Cunningham JA, Horton NH, McCambridge J. Journal of the American Medical Association. 2014. 311(12): 1218-1224. PMID: 24668103.

    Summary: This article describes the results of a multi-site, double-blind, randomized controlled trial of e-SBI for non-Maori university students. Students at seven New Zealand universities were randomly selected to participate in the study by completing a brief alcohol use screener. All consenting students screening positive for unhealthy alcohol use (n=3,422) were randomly assigned to e-SBI or screening only. Participants were unaware of the two different screening conditions and were instead told that the study focused on student alcohol use over time. Quantity and frequency of alcohol use, and alcohol-related consequences were re-assessed at 6-month follow-up. Drinking frequency, amount of alcohol consumed, number of heavy drinking episodes, and alcohol-related consequences did not differ between the screening only and e-SBI groups at 6 months. Participants in e-SBI did drink significantly fewer alcoholic beverages per drinking occasion than the screening only participants.

    Take Away: For non-Maori university students, e-SBI is associated with a decrease in drinks per drinking occasion at 6-months post-intervention. e-SBI had no significant effect on alcohol frequency, volume, or alcohol-related consequences.