Program for effective mHealth interventions in under-resourced settings for adolescents (POWERTXT)

 Funding agency: Wellcome Trust/DBT India Alliance, India

Duration: April 2017 to March 2022

Research investigators: Benedict Weobong, Richard Velleman, Abhijit Nadkarni, and others

Host institute: Sangath, Goa (India)

India is home to 240 million adolescents and the proportion who drink alcohol is rising: an increasing trend over time from 19.5% for those born between 1956 and 1960 to 74.3% for those born between 1981 and 1985, has been reported. There is evidence of the efficacy of brief interventions (BI) for hazardous drinking in high-income countries in primary health care settings. However, there are questions about the generalizability and implementation of brief interventions in low and middle-income countries (LMIC), where skilled human resources to deliver BIs are lacking. This barrier could be overcome by the innovative use of technology such as mHealth. Whilst such strategies have been shown to be effective in high-income countries, there is no comparable data on the effectiveness of technology-enabled BIs for hazardous drinking in adolescents in LMIC.

The goal of POWERTXT is to develop a brief intervention for hazardous drinking in older adolescents and to test its effectiveness in a randomised controlled trial in Goa, India. It’s about harnessing and demonstrating the POWER in a TXT message! This will be achieved in two broad phases of research: the intervention development phase (phase 1) will involve the use of formative and pilot studies to answer key questions regarding the architecture, content, and feasibility/acceptability of the intervention; and the intervention evaluation phase (phase 2) will employ the use of a definitive randomized controlled trial in order to answer questions about the effectiveness of the mobile messaging intervention in reducing severity of hazardous drinking, and increasing the proportion of non-hazardous drinking.

This project has the potential to influence policy in India through the national RKSK (Rashtriya Kishor Swasthya Karyakram) programme for adolescent health, which has emphasised among other things interventions for mental disorders and well-being.


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