Reducing problematic alcohol use in employees: economic evaluation of guided and unguided web-based interventions alongside a three-arm randomized controlled trial

Claudia Buntrock*, Johanna Freund, Filip Smit, Heleen Riper, Dirk Lehr, Leif Boß, Matthias Berking, David Daniel Ebert

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Aims: To perform an economic evaluation of guided and unguided internet-based interventions to reduce problematic alcohol consumption in employees compared with a waiting-list control condition (WLC) with unrestricted access to treatment-as-usual. Design: A cost-effectiveness analysis (CEA) and cost–utility analysis (CUA) from a societal and a cost–benefit analysis from the employer's perspective with a 6-month time horizon. Setting: Open recruitment in the German working population. Participants: Employees (178 males, 256 females, mean age 47 years) consuming at least 14 (women) or 21 (men) standard units of alcohol (SUAs) per week and scoring ≥ 8 (men) or 6 (women) on the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test. Measurements: On-line questionnaires administered to assess SUAs and assess quality of life (AQoL-8D) and resource use. Outcome measure was responder (≤ 14/≤ 21 SUAs) for the CEA and quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) for the CUA. Net benefit regression was used to estimate cost-effectiveness for each study arm. Bootstrapping and sensitivity analyses were performed to account for uncertainty. Interventions: Five weekly modules including personalized normative feedback, motivational interviewing, goal setting, problem-solving and emotion regulation, provided with adherence-focused guidance [n = 142; responders: n = 73 (51.4%); QALYs = 0.364, standard error (SE) = 0.006] or without guidance [n = 146; n = 66 (45.2%); 0.359, 0.007]. Controls were on a waiting-list [n = 144; n = 38 (26.4%); 0.342, 0.007]. Findings: From a societal perspective, the guided intervention had a probability of 55% (54%) of being the most efficient strategy at a willingness-to-pay (WTP) of €0 per responder (QALY) gained, compared with the unguided intervention and the control condition. At a WTP of €20 000 per QALY gained, the probability was 78%. From an employer's perspective, the guided intervention had a higher probability of a positive return on investment (81%) compared with the unguided intervention (58%). Conclusion: A guided internet-based intervention to reduce problematic alcohol consumption in employees appears to be both cost-beneficial and cost-effective.
Original languageEnglish
Early online date2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2021

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