Background: Physical inactivity, low fruit and vegetable intake, hazardous drinking, and smoking are leading risk factors for disease and injury. The aim of this study was to obtain estimates of efficacy in reducing the first three of these behaviors. Method: The design was a randomized controlled trial: 218 patients (17–24 years) attending a student health service at a New Zealand university in 2003 were assigned to: (A) web-based assessment and personalized feedback (n = 72); or (B) assessment only (n = 74); or (C) minimal contact (n = 72). Outcome measures were the proportion meeting recommendations for fruit and vegetable consumption, physical activity, and alcohol consumption 6 weeks later. Results: Follow-up assessments were attained for 86% of participants, with no evidence of differential attrition. There were significant differences in the proportion meeting recommendations for fruit and vegetable consumption and physical activity in group A relative to C. Hazardous drinking prevalence did not vary significantly by group. Conclusions: Differences appear attributable to the intervention. The intervention could be routinely provided in primary care, and its efficacy could be assessed in a large randomized controlled trial.
Preventive Medicine Vol. 41, Issue 3-4, p. 761-766