| ||Literature Coverage Dates||Number of Studies||Number of Study Participants|
|Meta-Analysis 1||2008 - 2015||15||4558|
Smedslund and colleagues (2016) analyzed the impact of computerized brief interventions on alcohol and cannabis use. The target population included individuals, aged 15–25, who are high or risky consumers of one or both substances. Studies that did not exclusively focus on high-risk, young adult users of alcohol or cannabis were excluded from the review. To be eligible for inclusion in the meta-analysis, studies had to be efficacy or effectiveness studies of computerized brief intervention programs targeted at youths aged 15 to 25 years old. Eligible studies had to use random assignment or quasi-random assignment to the early computerized brief intervention or comparison condition. Comparison conditions could include no intervention, wait-list control, or an alternative brief intervention. Moreover, studies had to include at least one of the primary outcomes of interest (e.g., alcohol use or cannabis use). It is important to note that this review included all types of early, computerized brief interventions regardless of the type of electronic device. However, to be considered a brief intervention, the preventive or therapeutic activity had to be provided within a maximum of four structured therapy sessions that lasted between five and ten minutes with a maximum total time in treatment time of one hour. Additionally, studies that used computerized brief interventions to target substance use in general were excluded unless alcohol and cannabis use were analyzed separately.
Using this eligibility criteria, a search of bibliographic databases, websites, and grey literature was conducted. Studies were not limited to the English language and could be international in scope. The literature search resulted in 7,553 hits of which 7,111 resulted from the search of the electronic databases and 442 from our search for grey literature. After excluding duplicates and screening titles and abstracts for relevant references, 60 studies met the eligibility criteria for review. Of these, 53 focused on alcohol use, 3 focused on cannabis use, and 4 focused on both alcohol and cannabis use.
The included studies were published between 2004 and 2016, and 59 of the 60 studies were randomized controlled trials (RCTs). The one study that did not use random assignment used a cluster-RCT instead. The majority of the studies were conducted at colleges or universities (N = 51), while the remaining studies were conducted in the general population (N = 5) and emergency departments (N = 4). Additionally, studies were predominately conducted in the United States (N = 44), while the others were conducted in New Zealand (N = 4), Sweden (N = 4), the Netherlands (N = 2), Australia (N = 2), Germany (N = 1), Switzerland (N = 1), and Brazil (N = 1). The mean age across the 60 studies varied, with a range between 16.3 and 25.4 years. Similarly, the proportion of whites in the included studies ranged from between 13.3 percent and 99.6 percent. Finally, the duration of the intervention ranged from 0–10 minutes in 7 studies, 11–20 minutes in 13 studies, and 21–60 minutes in 11 studies. Although 29 studies did not report the length of the intervention, it was determined that the description of the intervention met the criteria for a brief intervention.
RevMan 5 software was used to perform meta-analysis using the generic inverse variance method when similar treatments were compared to similar comparators and similar outcomes were used at similar follow-up times. Given the expected heterogeneity across the included studies, random effects models were used to determine the effectiveness of computerized brief interventions on alcohol and cannabis use.
However, although Smedslund and colleagues (2016) analyzed the impact of computerized brief interventions on alcohol and cannabis use, this CrimeSolutions.gov practice review only focused on the impact of computerized brief interventions on alcohol use. Outcomes related to cannabis use did not meet the requirements for review due to the limited number of studies. In addition, the meta-analysis examined nine subgroups, including (but not limited to) assessment and feedback versus no intervention, computer feedback versus counsellor feedback, and feedback plus moderation skills versus feedback only. However, the CrimeSolutions.gov practice review only focused on the assessment and feedback versus no intervention analysis.