Using qualitative methods within a mixed-methods approach to developing and evaluating interventions to address harmful alcohol use among young people

Richard O de Visser*, Rebecca Graber, Angie Hart, Charles Abraham, Tom Scanlon, Phil Watten, Anjum Memon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


OBJECTIVE: This article illustrates how qualitative methods can be used in the development and evaluation of behavior change interventions. Although many campaigns advise young people to drink responsibly, few clarify how to convert this general advice into specific behavioral strategies. Resilience-based approaches argue that treating young non-drinkers and moderate drinkers as "experts" in responsible alcohol use may facilitate co-creation of acceptable interventions that focus on how to change behavior.

METHOD: Four distinct phases of intervention development were linked to past research and future developments.

RESULTS: First, analysis of correlates of alcohol use using data from a survey of 1,412 people aged 16-21 indicated that alcohol harm-reduction interventions should help young people to develop skills and strategies to resist alcohol. Second, interpretative phenomenological analysis of 25 interviews with people purposively selected from among the survey sample identified general strategies and specific tactics used by young people to manage opportunities to drink. Third, insights from the first 2 phases and past qualitative research guided development of video resources to be use in school-based alcohol education to illustrate strategies and tactics for moderate or non-use of alcohol. Fourth, 18 focus groups with students and teachers were used to evaluate the video: structured thematic analysis indicated that after revision the video would be a valuable addition to school-based alcohol education.

CONCLUSIONS: Findings from the 4 phases highlight the value of using different qualitative and quantitative methods as part of a program of work designed to inform the development, refinement, and evaluation of health psychology interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)349-60
Number of pages12
JournalHealth Psychology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2015


  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Alcohol Drinking
  • Binge Drinking
  • Data Collection
  • Early Medical Intervention
  • Female
  • Harm Reduction
  • Health Education
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Qualitative Research
  • Students
  • Young Adult

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