Newswise – London, UK, June 21, 2022: A new smartphone app, released to the public today, has proven successful in helping British veterans cut down on alcohol consumption.
The 28-day short-term alcohol intervention app was tested on more than 120 UK veterans in a study funded by Forces in Mind Trust.
After using the Drinks:Ration app, veterans consumed 28 units less alcohol (about 9 pints of standard British beer) over the course of a week than before, compared to a control group who only received government advice on alcohol consumption, who consumed 10.5 fewer units of alcohol.
The app, developed by researchers from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s College London, led by Dr. Daniel Leightley and supported by Lancaster University and the National Veterans Mental Health Charity combat stresswas designed to help people track their alcohol consumption.
Previous research has shown that alcohol abuse is higher in the UK armed forces than in the general population and that this persists after an individual has left the service, particularly for those seeking help with a mental illness. There is currently no app in the UK designed to help the UK Armed Forces community manage the amount of alcohol they drink.
The app aims to motivate individual users to drink and encourage positive behavioral change using personalized messaging and data-driven infographics. The app is also designed to target more short-term effects of alcohol, such as: B. the impact on relationships or finances, and to provide daily personalized messages. Most of the users participating in this study were recruited by Combat Stress and likely had depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder.
Following this successful test, the UK MoD, led by Surgeon Commander Kate King, will test the Drinks:Ration app to assess its use and benefit to the serving community. The process is scheduled to begin later this year.
Our study showed that the Drinks:Ration app was effective in reducing alcohol abuse among veterans seeking help over the medium term. It could do it a valuable tool for the armed forces community while they await treatment and support. This digital intervention could provide a novel, low-cost alternative to traditional help-seeking and be just as effective as face-to-face interventions. I am delighted that the UK Ministry of Defense will be testing the app with the serving community. [Dr Daniel Leightley, lead Researcher at the IoPPN, King’s College London]
Our research shows that the Drinks:Ration app helped veterans make positive changes in their drinking habits. We look forward to spreading this app further to support the veteran community. [Prof Dominic Murphy, Head of Research at Combat Stress]
We know from our research that veterans with a mental health problem often coexist with heavy drinking, but this group can find it difficult to access the support they need. This study highlighted the positive benefits of providing digital assistance and how this could help reduce alcohol use among veterans with co-occurring issues. [Dr Laura Goodwin, senior lecturer in mental health, Lancaster University]
The King’s IoPPN team has developed an effective short-term tool to reduce harmful alcohol consumption in the armed forces community and support the longer-term positive mental health of veterans. It’s important to note that not all veterans with alcohol or mental health problems seek help, and it’s equally important to continue to find ways to reach those who could benefit from these types of interventions. Evidence is unequivocal that this is an effective and cost-effective tool for assisting veterans, and we look forward to developing its further capabilities. [Tom McBarnet, chief executive (acting), Forces in Mind Trust]
Notes for editors
About the research
A “light” version of the Drinks:Ration app was made available to the public today (21 June 2022) on Apple iOS and Google Android.
From a sample of 123 candidates, 62 received the intervention app and 61 the control app. Both groups were administered a 28-day brief alcohol intervention, delivered through their assigned smartphone app, with the aim of reducing self-reported alcohol use among British veterans seeking help with mental health issues.
The full report will be available on the Forces in Mind Trust website on June 21, 2022, or you can request a blocked copy beforehand by contacting Genevieve Lazar (see contact details above).
About Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT)
FiMT was established in 2011 with a £35m endowment from the National Lottery Community Fund to improve the transition to civilian life for service leavers and their families. Our mission is to enable successful and sustainable transitions to civilian life, and the Trust’s strategy is to provide an evidence base that informs and underpins effective policy making and practice. By funding high-quality, credible research where there is an identified gap in relevant understanding, and then capitalizing on the results, FiMT aims to bring about positive change.
www.fim-trust.org | @FiMTrust
About King’s College London and the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience (IoPPN)
King’s College London is one of the top 35 British universities in the world. one of the top 10 in Europe (QS World University Rankings, 2020/21) and is among the oldest in England. King’s has more than 31,000 students (including more than 12,800 postgraduates) from around 150 countries worldwide and 8,500 employees. King’s has an excellent reputation for world-class teaching and research. The IoPPN at King’s College London is the leading center for mental health and related neuroscience research in Europe. It produces more top-cited results (top 1% of citations) on mental health than any other center (SciVal 2019), and on this metric its global ranking for top-cited sites has gone from 16th (2014) to 4th ( 2019) increased neuroscientific results. IoPPN’s world-leading research has impacted how we understand, prevent and treat mental illness and other disorders that affect the brain.
Read the full study here:
Leightley D, Williamson C, Rona RJ, et al. Assessing the Effectiveness of the Drinks:Ration Mobile App in Reducing Alcohol Consumption in a Help-Seeking Military Veteran Population: Randomized Controlled Trial. JMIR Mhealth Uhealth. 2022;10(6):e38991.