Online and mobile interventions for problem gambling, alcohol and drugs: A systematic review

Abstract

Online interventions for gambling, alcohol and illegal drug related problems have been developing at a fast pace over the past decade. Yet, little is known about the content and efficacy of interventions provided entirely online for reducing drug/alcohol use and gambling, or about the characteristics of those who use these interventions. This systematic review aims to describe the characteristics of online interventions, their efficacy, and the profile of their clientele. Documentation was mainly obtained through four scientific databases in psychology, technology, and medical research (PsychINFO, MedLine, Francis, and INSPEC) using three keywords (substances or gambling, intervention, Internet). Of the 4,703 documents initially identified, 18 studies meeting admissibility criteria were retained and analyzed after exclusion of duplicates and non-relevant documents. The majority of interventions were based upon motivational or cognitive-behavioral theoretical approaches and called upon well-established therapeutic components in the field of addictions. The participants in these studies were generally adults between 30 and 46 years old with a high school education and presenting a high risk or problematic use. More than three quarters of the studies showed a short-term decrease in use that was maintained 6 months later, but only two studies included a longer follow-up. Online interventions seem promising and appear to meet the needs of participants who are in the workforce and seeking help for the first time. Long-term efficacy studies should nonetheless be conducted.

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