Over a three-month period, 57% of patients using the app remained sober
University College London (UCL) and the Royal Free Hospital researchers have revealed that their mobile phone app successfully helped patients living with alcohol-related liver disease abstain from alcohol.
Alcohol-related liver disease is an increasing global health problem that is estimated to kill three million people worldwide every year.
Developed by Cyberliver, a UCL spin-out company, the AlcoChange app comprises several behavioural change strategies, such as a mobile phone-based breathalyser and personalised messages that allow liver disease patients to abstain from alcohol while keeping track of their progress.
Furthermore, it provides information, including how much money they will save by not purchasing alcohol, sending pictures of loved ones and providing solutions to overcome cravings.
Published in JHEP Reports, the study revealed that 57% of people using the AlcoChange app remained sober across a three-month period, compared to 22% of those who did not use the app regularly.
In addition, the trial resulted in fewer hospital submissions, even a year after they had stopped using the app.
Dr Gautam Mehta, first author of the study, UCL division of medicine and the Royal Free Hospital, said: “We think that this could pave the way to using digital tools to provide high-intensity alcohol abstinence support in people’s own homes” and “has the potential to be particularly useful, given that few patients receive medication or talking therapy to help maintain abstinence”.
Professor Rajiv Jalan, senior author of the study, UCL division of medicine and the Royal Free Hospital, said: “Harnessing digital technology has the potential to revolutionise the management of patients with liver disease as it can be delivered continuously at home, reducing the need for patients having to travel and impacting dramatically on costs of healthcare delivery.”
Following the results, a larger, randomised, nationwide study funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research has been launched to establish which patients will benefit the most and evaluate its cost-effectiveness.