A comparison between telehealth and face-to-face delivery of a brief alcohol intervention for college students

Sarah C. King, Kailey A. Richner, Antover P. Tuliao, Joseph L. Kennedy, Dennis E. McChargue

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Background: Problematic alcohol use is a common occurrence among college students. While empirically supported interventions exist, their access is typically limited to those with greater resources. There has been an expansion of services provided via telehealth to increase client access to treatment in the health care field. However, the evidence is mixed regarding the effectiveness of face-to-face versus telehealth interventions and there is a gap in the literature regarding brief alcohol interventions delivered via telehealth. As such, the purpose of this study was to test the effectiveness of a well-validated brief alcohol screening and intervention for college students (BASICS) when conducted face-to-face or through a videoconferencing system. Method: Participants included 51 college students who engaged in heavy episodic drinking (5+ drinks for males and 4+ drinks for females over a two hour period) over the last two weeks. They were randomly assigned to receive the face-to-face or telehealth intervention and completed a variety of questionnaires throughout. Follow up data on the participant’s alcohol use and alcohol-related problems was collected at 1-, 2-, and 3-months. Multilevel modeling in SAS was utilized for analyses, which included the modeling of treatment outcome trajectories and the influence of predictors on the trajectory of change for each outcome. Results: Results indicated that the intervention significantly reduced alcohol consumption and related problems regardless of condition. Both conditions saw an increase in treatment satisfaction and therapeutic alliance between the two sessions. Increased therapeutic alliance resulted in greater decreases in alcohol use and related harm across both conditions. Additionally, those with a mental health diagnosis showed greater improvement related to risk reduction for both treatment modalities. Conclusion: In sum, the results of this study suggest that telehealth services should be further implemented and the BASICS intervention can be effectively delivered via telehealth for college students.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)501-509
Number of pages9
JournalSubstance Abuse
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2020


  • Telemedicine
  • alcoholic intoxication
  • binge drinking
  • clinical trial
  • young adults

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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