Acceptability and Feasibility of Wearable Transdermal Alcohol Sensors: Systematic Review

Eileen Brobbin*, Paolo Deluca, Sofia Vassangi Hemrage, Colin Drummond

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Transdermal alcohol sensors (TASs) have the potential to be used to monitor alcohol consumption objectively and continuously. These devices can provide real-time feedback to the user, researcher, or health professional and measure alcohol consumption and peaks of use, thereby addressing some of the limitations of the current methods, including breathalyzers and self-reports.

This systematic review aims to evaluate the acceptability and feasibility of the currently available TAS devices.

A systematic search was conducted in CINAHL, EMBASE, Google Scholar, MEDLINE, PsycINFO, PubMed, and Scopus bibliographic databases in February 2021. Two members of our study team independently screened studies for inclusion, extracted data, and assessed the risk of bias. The study’s methodological quality was appraised using the Mixed Methods Appraisal Tool. The primary outcome was TAS acceptability. The secondary outcome was feasibility. The data are presented as a narrative synthesis.

We identified and analyzed 22 studies. Study designs included laboratory- and ambulatory-based studies, mixed designs, randomized controlled trials, and focus groups, and the length the device was worn ranged from days to weeks. Although views on TASs were generally positive with high compliance, some factors were indicated as potential barriers and there are suggestions to overcome these.

There is a lack of research investigating the acceptability and feasibility of TAS devices as a tool to monitor alcohol consumption in clinical and nonclinical populations. Although preliminary evidence suggests their potential in short-term laboratory-based studies with volunteers, more research is needed to establish long-term daily use with other populations, specifically, in the clinical and the criminal justice system.

Trial Registration:
PROSPERO CRD42021231027;
Original languageEnglish
JournalJMIR Human Factors
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 23 Dec 2022


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