BACKGROUND AND AIMS:
Binge drinking is a widespread practice among adolescents worldwide and is associated with various harmful consequences. Theory-based interventions are a promising approach to prevent this drinking behaviour in this population. The aim of the present review was to determine: (1) the characteristics of theory-based interventions targeting binge drinking in adolescents, (2) the impact of such interventions on binge drinking, and (3) the quality of theoretical implementation.
For this systematic review, randomised controlled trials were eligible for inclusion if the binge drinking-targeting intervention was based at least on one theoretical framework, and if the population's mean age was between 10 and 18 years. Two authors extracted relevant data. A meta-analysis was conducted to evaluate the effect of interventions on binge drinking. Effect sizes were calculated with the Hedges's g. Binge drinking was measured as a continuous or dichotomous outcome. The quality of theoretical implementation of interventions was measured using an existing "theory coding scheme".
Sixteen studies were identified. Ten were based on a single theory, and six on a combination of theories. The number and type of behaviour change techniques used in each intervention varied greatly. Theory-based interventions led to a small but significant decrease in binge drinking (Hedges's g = 0.10; 95% confidence interval = 0.04, 0.16). The quality of theoretical implementation was globally low, and the reciprocal link between behaviour change techniques and theoretical constructs was unclear for most studies.
Theory-based interventions have a small but significant beneficial impact on decreasing binge drinking in adolescents. Future research should try to be more effective in matching theoretical determinants of behaviour with the content of the intervention.
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