The American College of Emergency Physicians through its research arm, the Emergency Medicine Foundation (EMF), developed a call for research proposals to learn more about the role of emergency departments with regard to prevention and intervention of college binge drinking-related cases. After a rigorous selection process, Dr. Brian Suffoletto MD MS, from the University of Pittsburgh’s Medical Center was awarded the research grant. This groundbreaking research project examined the feasibility of using text messaging as a way to further reduce risky drinking among college-age students.

Results from the research indicate among self-identified dangerous drinkers ages 18-24, text messaging (SMS) can be used to assess drinking in young adults and can be used successfully to deliver brief interventions over a 12-week period after discharge from the emergency department. More specifically, among young adults who participated in the text messaging based intervention program, the research noted a reduction in the number of binge drinking episodes per month and the number of drinks per occasion.

In 2012, The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, again working with EMF, is funding a follow-up longitudinal study conducted by Dr. Suffoletto at three university-based emergency departments to further test whether SMS-delivered intervention decreases and maintains reduction in alcohol use and related programs for up to one year (follow-up assessments will be measured at 3, 6, 9, and 12 months). Thus confirming whether or not text messaging can be used to initiate and maintain an effective behavior change for this high-risk population. If effective, the automated nature of the intervention would allow for widespread adoption of text messaging as a brief intervention tool, thus helping to reduce a significant public health problem.