Using digital positively; how a health and wellness app helps drive behavioural change

Nov 2019 · Design Healthcare

First released in 2014 , Drinks Meter has supported over 50,000 people and helped users from 170 countries. The brainchild of Global Drug Survey Founder, Dr Adam Winstock; Consultant Addictions Psychiatrist and Clinical Lead for the Addiction for London Prisons, he believed in order to make informed choices around drinking, people need personally relevant, objective information.

Drinks Meter is designed to allow people to think about their alcohol use and compare themselves anonymously to others. It aims to nudge people to be safer and wiser, and to provide them with some simple tools and information to reduce the risk of harm related to their drinking and flag when there could be a potential issue.

In 2018, the Australian New South Wales government commissioned Drinks Meter to deliver new functionality to help combat their severe issues with alcohol abuse in the state. This new version available now has now been tested by Woolcott Research and Engagement and presents some compelling results.

Woolcott created three online survey groups with a control group with a ‘good representation’ of both iOS and Android phone users. The research feedback identifies the beneficial impact of the User Interface, User Experience and digital app functionality as well as how these elements have helped to drive behavioural change in people — all created by Studiomade.

Aside from the great feedback, what was of most interest was the change in behaviour that the app cultivated. When asking respondents if they were considering ‘actually changing their drinking habits right now’ groups increased by ~14%. Likewise reaction to the statement ‘There is no need for me to think about changing my drinking’, reflected the testing groups acknowledgement to change. This change in attitude is as a direct result of the approach within the app, including features such as the diary component which ‘in particular was seen to be appealing and the main element to attract repeat usage’.

The other contributor for this behavioural change could be due to the unique way that the app educates the user on the risks of drinking. 13% of respondents increased their understanding across the lifetime risk of alcohol related disease/injury. As well as this, respondents increased their understanding of how many grams of alcohol there were in a standard drink.

Drinks Meter is witness to how today’s wellness-focused consumers are actively reviewing their relationship with alcohol and their approach to consumption. In driving this habitual change, users became more aware and informed as to not just their own alcohol consumption, but the impact that it has on their health and wellbeing, how they compare to their peers and ultimately how a change in approach to alcohol could positively affect their own life.

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