Efficacy of a web-based intervention with and without guidance for employees with risky drinking: results of a three-arm randomized controlled trial

Leif Boß*, Dirk Lehr, Michael Patrick Schaub, Raquel Paz Castro, Heleen Riper, Matthias Berking, David Daniel Ebert

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Aims: To test the efficacy of a web-based alcohol intervention with and without guidance. Design: Three parallel groups with primary end-point after 6 weeks. Setting: Open recruitment in the German working population. Participants: Adults (178 males/256 females, mean age 47 years) consuming at least 21/14 weekly standard units of alcohol (SUA) and scoring ≥ 8/6 on the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test. Intervention: Five web-based modules including personalized normative feedback, motivational interviewing, goal setting, problem-solving and emotion regulation during 5 weeks. One intervention group received an unguided self-help version (n=146) and the second received additional adherence-focused guidance by eCoaches (n=144). Controls were on a waiting list with full access to usual care (n=144). Measurements: Primary outcome was weekly consumed SUA after 6 weeks. SUA after 6 months was examined as secondary outcome, next to numbers of participants drinking within the low-risk range, and general and work-specific mental health measures. Findings: All groups showed reductions of mean weekly SUA after 6 weeks (unguided: −8.0; guided: −8.5; control: −3.2). There was no significant difference between the unguided and guided intervention (P=0.324). Participants in the combined intervention group reported significantly fewer SUA than controls [B=−4.85, 95% confidence interval (CI)=−7.02 to −2.68, P < 0.001]. The intervention groups also showed significant reductions in SUA consumption after 6 months (B=−5.72, 95% CI=−7.71 to −3.73, P < 0.001) and improvements regarding general and work-related mental health outcomes after 6 weeks and 6 months. Conclusions: A web-based alcohol intervention, administered with or without personal guidance, significantly reduced mean weekly alcohol consumption and improved mental health and work-related outcomes in the German working population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)635-646
Number of pages12
Issue number4
Early online date4 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2018


Leuphana University, Lueneburg, has full exploitation rights for the intervention. The authors will have no share in any possible license revenues from Leuphana University Lueneburg. However, D.E., D.L. and M.B. report holding shares of the Institute for Online Health Training, which aims to transfer scientific knowledge related to the present research into routine mental health care in Germany. This institute licenses the intervention under study at Leuphana University, Lueneburg, to provide the intervention within routine preventative services of health insurance companies in Germany. Having the foundation of such an institute to disseminate the findings and products from the research project was the primary aim of the European Union for funding the presented research. M.B. reports receiving research grants from the German Ministry of Research and the German Research Association and receiving personal fees from various institutions providing ongoing training for psychotherapists. D.E. reports receiving funds from the European Union, German Ministry of Education and Research, as well as fees as scientific adviser from several companies such as Minddistrict Holding, Lantern Inc., BARMER, Techniker Krankenkasse. The associated project of all the authors was funded by the European Union (project EFRE: CCI 2007DE161PR001).

FundersFunder number
German Ministry of Research
German company health insurance fund
European CommissionCCI 2007DE161PR001
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft


    • Alcohol
    • drinking
    • employee
    • internet
    • mental health
    • occupational health
    • training
    • treatment


    Dive into the research topics of 'Efficacy of a web-based intervention with and without guidance for employees with risky drinking: results of a three-arm randomized controlled trial'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this