Background: Accurate and user-friendly assessment tools for quantifying alcohol consumption are a prerequisite for effective interventions to reduce alcohol-related harm. Digital assessment tools (DATs) that allow the description of consumed alcoholic drinks through animation features may facilitate more accurate reporting than conventional approaches.
Objective: This review aims to identify and characterize freely available DATs in English or Russian that use animation features to support the quantitative assessment of alcohol consumption (alcohol DATs) and determine the extent to which such tools have been scientifically evaluated in terms of feasibility, acceptability, and validity.
Methods: Systematic English and Russian searches were conducted in iOS and Android app stores and via the Google search engine. Information on the background and content of eligible DATs was obtained from app store descriptions, websites, and test completions. A systematic literature review was conducted in Embase, MEDLINE, PsycINFO, and Web of Science to identify English-language studies reporting the feasibility, acceptability, and validity of animation-using alcohol DATs. Where possible, the evaluated DATs were accessed and assessed. Owing to the high heterogeneity of study designs, results were synthesized narratively.
Results: We identified 22 eligible alcohol DATs in English, 3 (14%) of which were also available in Russian. More than 95% (21/22) of tools allowed the choice of a beverage type from a visually displayed selection. In addition, 36% (8/22) of tools enabled the choice of a drinking vessel. Only 9% (2/22) of tools allowed the simulated interactive pouring of a drink. For none of the tools published evaluation studies were identified in the literature review. The systematic literature review identified 5 exploratory studies evaluating the feasibility, acceptability, and validity of 4 animation-using alcohol DATs, 1 (25%) of which was available in the searched app stores. The evaluated tools reached moderate to high scores on user rating scales and showed fair to high convergent validity when compared with established assessment methods.
Conclusions: Animation-using alcohol DATs are available in app stores and on the web. However, they often use nondynamic features and lack scientific background information. Explorative study data suggest that such tools might enable the user-friendly and valid assessment of alcohol consumption and could thus serve as a building block in the reduction of alcohol-attributable health burden worldwide.