The systematic development of a mobile phone–delivered brief intervention for hazardous drinking in India

Abhijit Nadkarni, Sheina Costa, Devika Gupta, Danielle Fernandes, Alexander Catalano, Richard Velleman, Seema Sambari, Subhash Pednekar, Farah Hussain, Ethel D'Souza, Amruta Houde, Neal Chaudhuri, Anna Heath

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Background: The treatment gap for alcohol use disorders (AUD) in India is the highest among all mental health and substance use disorders. Despite evidence of the cost effectiveness of brief interventions (BIs) for hazardous drinking, implementation in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) is rare due to several human resource–related barriers. This paper describes the processes and outputs of a study aimed at systematically developing a mobile phone–delivered BI to overcome such barriers. Methods: This is a mixed methods study with four steps: (1) Review of existing relevant evidence base by extracting data from studies cited in two recent, relevant and high-quality systematic reviews; (2) In-depth interviews (IDIs) with 11 national experts in addictions research and practice, and 22 hazardous drinkers; (3) Delphi survey (2 rounds) to identify components for the intervention package through consensus building; and (4) Content and intervention development workshops with a range of stakeholders to develop the intervention package. Results: The research team sourced 72 journal articles from two selected systematic reviews. Key content areas extracted from the studies included facts and statistics about health related to drinking behavior, self-reflection, goal-setting messages, motivational messages, and skills to manage risky situations. The IDIs with experts and hazardous drinkers endorsed most of these content areas as well. The Delphi survey achieved consensus on 19 content areas, which included targeted recommendations, personalized feedback and information, goal management, and coping skills. The content and intervention development workshops resulted in an intervention package delivered over 8 weeks, with the following seven themes guiding the content of the weekly messages: safe drinking/health education, alcohol reduction, drinking and risk management, drinking alternatives, situational content, urge management, and maintenance and relapse prevention. Conclusion: The research team designed this study to consider contextual factors while developing the intervention, which is important to ensure acceptability and feasibility of the intervention. Interestingly, the contextually informed intervention components had several commonalities with BIs developed and tested in high-income countries.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108331
JournalJournal of Substance Abuse Treatment
Early online date15 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2021


  • Brief interventions
  • Hazardous drinking
  • India
  • Intervention development
  • mHealth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Phychiatric Mental Health
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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