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A comparison of three types of web-based inhibition training for the reduction of alcohol consumption in problem drinkers: study protocol

Andrew Jones1, Elly McGrath1, Katrijn Houben2, Chantal Nederkoorn2, Eric Robinson1 and Matt Field1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Psychological Sciences, University of Liverpool, United Kingdom and UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies (UKCTAS), Liverpool L69 7ZA, UK

2 Clinical Psychological Science, Maastricht University, Maastrich, The Netherlands

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BMC Public Health 2014, 14:796  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-796

Published: 5 August 2014



Problem drinkers have poor inhibitory control (disinhibition). Previous studies have demonstrated that various forms of ‘inhibition training’ can reduce alcohol consumption in the laboratory and at short-term follow-up, but their longer-term efficacy and mechanisms of action are unknown. In this phase 2 randomised controlled trial we will contrast the effects of three forms of inhibition training and a control intervention, delivered via the Internet in multiple sessions over four weeks, on alcohol consumption in heavy drinkers.


Heavy drinkers who are interested in reducing their alcohol consumption will receive a brief intervention and will monitor their own alcohol intake for one week before being randomised to one of four treatment groups: 1. General inhibition training; 2. Cue-Specific inhibition training; 3. Alcohol No-Go training; or 4. Control. They will complete up to 14 sessions of training via the Internet over a four-week period, and will be followed-up for a further six weeks after the end of the training period. Primary outcome measures are reductions in alcohol consumption and heavy drinking days. The number of abstinent days is a secondary outcome measure. We will also investigate changes in inhibitory control and automatic alcohol affective associations in response to training.


This study will establish if web-based inhibition training can help problem drinkers to reduce their alcohol intake, and it will identify which form(s) of inhibition training are most effective.

Trial registation

Trial Registation number: ISRCTN55671858.

Alcohol; Disinhibition; Inhibitory control; Inhibition training