Alcohol-related problems in older Americans are a growing public health concern. About half of all older adults drink alcohol, and many drink above recommended limits. In the elderly, changes in the body's ability to metabolize alcohol mean that even relatively low levels of consumption can interact adversely with older adults'declining health, increased medication-use and impaired functional status. However, there is no available evidence-based online alcohol education programs designed to meet the specific needs of older adults even though the population is aging, and more people are drinking into older age. To make up for this deficit, we propose to develop Wise Drinking as We Age, an online education program that will incorporate the best available knowledge about alcohol and aging and models of health behavior and adult learning. This goal is consistent with NIAAA's specified area of interest for SBIR's calling for the "development and evaluation of educational materials designed to inform the elderly about specific age-related risks for alcohol problems." Our study has four milestones. The first is the production of a written curriculum that includes instructiona objectives, the educational content needed to meet the objectives, graphics, interactive practice exercises and feedback, and links to other online resources. The prototype education will be drafted and reviewed by educators, alcohol researchers, and geriatricians and experts in patient education. Content will focus on alcohol's impact on health and quality of life, accounting for factors such as medical problems, medication-use, functional status, drinking and driving, and binge drinking. Instruction will be guided by well- established models of adult learning, the Health Belief Model, and AHRQ's health literacy guidelines for public websites. The second study milestone is the production of a functioning website, which will be pilot tested among older non-treatment seeking adults, the third milestone. The final product will consist of quantitative data on the feasibility and effectiveness of the education. 50 older current drinkers will be randomly assigned to Wise Drinking as We Age, while 50 will be assigned to the NIH Senior Health's online alcohol program. Participants will be measured at baseline and 1 month later to compare their alcohol use, knowledge, and self-efficacy.
This project aims to develop and evaluate an online alcohol education program for the elderly. Older adults have age-specific alcohol-related risks because of changes in their metabolism and the potentially adverse interactions between alcohol, declining health and functional status and increased medication use. Yet, although most older adults use the internet for health information, online programs that meet their specific needs are unavailable, and this study aims to make up for that deficit.