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Text messages to help citizens between the ages of 55 and 80 reduce their alcohol consumption

In a new project, researchers will test whether messages from an app can motivate people to drink less.

By Marianne Lie Becker, , 4/16/2024

At the University of Southern Denmark, project SELMA has just been launched with the aim of helping citizens aged over 55 to reduce their alcohol consumption.

The project is led by Silke Behrendt, Associate Professor at the Department of Psychology, and with funding from TrygFonden, she and her team hope to make a real difference to the quality of life of many Danes.

- Our goal with the SELMA project is not to prevent the enjoyment of a glass of wine with dinner, but rather to support a healthier lifestyle in which alcohol is consumed within the recommended limits. It’s about giving people the tools to make their own choices that benefit their health in the long term, explains Silke Behrendt.

How alcohol is harmful

Alcohol has a number of well-known health risks, which increase in people over the age of 55. A decreased ability to metabolise alcohol means a higher concentration of alcohol in the blood and an increased risk of health problems such as diabetes, stroke and memory loss.

In addition, alcohol does not interact well with some medications, can affect sleep quality and increases the risk of accidents, which can have a major impact on daily life.

The Danish Health Authority recommends a maximum intake of ten units per week and a maximum of four units in a single session.

- We would like to help citizens stay below this level, says Silke Behrendt.

Successfully tested in the United States

Project SELMA is testing a new approach, inspired by successful methods used in the United States, in which motivational text messages have proven effective.

Through an app that can easily be installed on the participant’s own mobile phone, citizens aged 55–80 who want to reduce their alcohol consumption will receive supportive and motivational messages over a period of 12 weeks.

- By offering a combination of practical tools and support, we hope to inspire positive change that can last a lifetime. We want to improve the quality of life for the older generation by promoting a healthier relationship with alcohol, says Silke Behrendt.

Meet the researcher

Silke Behrendt is an associate professor at the Department of Psychology. With support from Trygfonden, she and her team are investigating whether text messaging can reduce alcohol consumption.


About the project

Participation in the project is voluntary, and anyone between the ages of 55 and 80 who is interested in achieving a healthier and reduced consumption of alcohol is encouraged to sign up.

The project also involves participants completing a number of questionnaires before and after the course. This takes about 35 minutes and helps the researchers evaluate the project.

To register for the project and for more information, please visit this website or contact Silke Behrendt.

Editing was completed: 16.04.2024