Age of Drinking Initiation as a Moderator of the Efficacy of a Brief, Web-Based Personalized Feedback Alcohol Intervention

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Early initiation of alcohol use is associated with high-risk drinking and an increased risk of adult alcohol dependence. The current study tested age of drinking initiation as a moderator of the efficacy of a brief, Web-based intervention on frequency of drinking and alcohol-related consequences among ninth-grade students (N = 513). At a three-month follow-up, students in the intervention group reported a reduction in drinking frequency and alcohol-related consequences relative to those in the control group. In addition, age of drinking initiation was a significant moderator of intervention efficacy. Intervention effects were greatest among two groups of students—those who reported abstinence at baseline and those who initiated drinking at age 11 or younger. Results support a brief, Web-based intervention as a promising strategy for reducing frequency of drinking and the associated consequences as a prevention strategy for students who report no drinking history and as an intervention strategy for early initiators who are at the highest risk for developing alcohol-related problems.