The Journal of Primary Prevention

, Volume 35, Issue 1, pp 47–52 | Cite as

Text Messaging to Increase Readiness to Change Alcohol Use in College Students

  • Michael MasonEmail author
  • Eric G. Benotsch
  • Thomas Way
  • Hannah Kim
  • Daniel Snipes
Original Paper


We tested the feasibility and effectiveness of an alcohol counseling intervention delivered via personalized text messages for college students with problem alcohol use. College students aged 18–23 completed online substance use and mental health questionnaires that served as a screening tool for problem alcohol use. We invited students who screened positive to be randomized to intervention (n = 8) or control groups (n = 10) and assessed them at 1 month after they received their last text message. The intervention group received between four and six text messages daily for 4 days that required brief participant responses during the week following the web-based baseline assessment. Participants in the intervention group could also request booster texts for additional support. We personalized all texts, using data collected at baseline. Using a repeated measures ANOVA, we found that compared to the control group, the intervention group increased in readiness to change from baseline to follow-up (p < .01). Other promising trends were an increase in the intervention relative to the control group’s confidence in their ability to change drinking behavior, and an increase in intentions to reduce alcohol use. These exploratory results indicate that the automated texting program we developed works well with college students and that text messaging as a means to deliver preventive interventions is a promising delivery platform.


Text-messaging Young adults Readiness for change Alcohol Substance use 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Mason
    • 1
    Email author
  • Eric G. Benotsch
    • 2
  • Thomas Way
    • 3
  • Hannah Kim
    • 4
  • Daniel Snipes
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry, Commonwealth Institute for Child and Family StudiesVirginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmondUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyVirginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmondUSA
  3. 3.Department of Computing SciencesVillanova UniversityVillanovaUSA
  4. 4.Department of PsychiatryVirginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmondUSA

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