Background: Pre-drinking refers to the consumption of alcohol at home or a private residence prior to attending a subsequent social event. We present the study protocol of an online theory-based intervention to reduce pre-drinking and related harm in pre-drinking undergraduates, using behavior change techniques targeting the motivational and volitional phases of behaviour.
Design: A fully randomized 2 (autonomy support: present vs. absent) x 2 (implementation intention: present vs. absent) between-participants design will be used to ascertain the effectiveness of the intervention in reducing pre-drinking alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harm. Participants will complete a range of theory-based measures prior to being allocated to one of the four experimental conditions. Four weeks later, participants will complete a follow-up questionnaire comprised of theoretical and behavioral measures.
Analyses: The main and interactive effects of the intervention components in reducing our primary dependent variables, namely, pre-drinking alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harm at four-week follow-up will be tested. Baseline alcohol consumption and demographic information will be included in the analysis as covariates.
Discussion: This online intervention is the first to be developed to reduce pre-drinking alcohol consumption, a behaviour linked to increased risk of alcohol-related harm. The intervention targets motivational and volitional components of the behaviour change process and is therefore likely to lead to greater reductions in pre-drinking alcohol consumption and experience of alcohol-related harm compared to either approach in isolation. If successful, the intervention can be implemented across various contexts and in populations where pre-drinking is prevalent. Trial registration: ACTRN12614001102662. Registered 16 October 2014.