Introduction Disadvantaged men suffer substantial harm from heavy drinking. Effective brief interventions to reduce alcohol consumption have been developed for middle-aged men. These were mainly delivered in healthcare settings. Disadvantaged young men seldom attend healthcare. A tailored brief intervention delivered by text message provides a low cost method for accessing this hard to reach group.
Methods Focus groups were conducted with disadvantaged young men to explore the social context of drinking and opportunities for intervention. Empirical evidence and social cognition theories were used to develop a series of text messages and images to reduce binge drinking. These were tested in three further focus groups, including one with female partners of binge drinkers.
Results The focus groups identified cost and personal experience of alcohol harms as opportunities for intervention. Humour was identified as a useful lever for behaviour change. The focus groups also provided useful quotes for text messages. A series of 37 text messages and images were developed within the framework of the Stages of Change model. They incorporated the principles of motivational interviewing and used components of successful behaviour change strategies. To promote interaction, several messages requested a response.
Conclusion This study has shown it is possible to encapsulate the theoretical approaches and the major components of brief interventions in a series of text messages. Focus groups highlighted levers for change and aided the selection of acceptable messages. This approach could be used with other social groups and other adverse health behaviours.