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An Expert and Veteran User Assessment of the Usability of an Alcohol Reduction App for Military Veterans, Drinks:Ration: A Mixed-Methods Pilot Study

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Charlotte Williamson, Danielle Dryden, Laura Palmer, Roberto Rona, Amos Simms, Nicola Fear, Laura Goodwin, Dominic Murphy, Daniel Leightley

Original languageEnglish
JournalMilitary Behavioral Health
Accepted/In press2022
Published6 Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: DM is a trustee for the Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT; the funder of this project) and is employed by Combat Stress, a national charity in the United Kingdom that provides clinical mental health services to veterans. NTF sits on the Independent Group Advising on the release of patient data at NHS Digital and is also a trustee of a military-related charity. NTF is partly funded by the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence. AS is a full-time member of the UK Armed Forces seconded to King’s College London. DL is a reservist in the UK Armed Forces. This work has been undertaken as part of his civilian employment. CW is currently in receipt of a PhD studentship via the King’s Centre for Military Health Research Health and Wellbeing Study funded by the Office for Veterans’ Affairs (OVA), Cabinet Office, UK Government The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of FiMT, the NHS, the UK Ministry of Defence, or the OVA. Publisher Copyright: © 2022 The Author(s). Published with license by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

King's Authors


The development of mobile health applications (apps) is growing exponentially. Alcohol reduction apps can break down perceived barriers of seeking help for alcohol misuse, potentially making them more appealing than face-to-face methods. App usability is therefore essential in supporting individuals misusing alcohol. Alcohol misuse is common in the UK Armed Forces, therefore smartphone-based alcohol interventions could be valuable for this population. The aim of this pilot study was to assess the usability of Drinks:Ration, an alcohol reduction app for military veterans. Participants downloaded and used Drinks:Ration for 14-days (n = 16), completed a usability questionnaire (n = 14; 88%) and a semi-structured interview (n = 12; 75%). The mean usability score across all measures was 6.09 (SD 1.37), out of 7, indicating good usability. Three core themes were identified: simplicity; appropriateness for veterans; and engagement. Drinks:Ration was a usable app for veterans to monitor their alcohol consumption. Veteran users were more critical than expert users about the usefulness of the app. Feedback was incorporated into the app, where possible, to improve usability. Improvements included adding extra drink options, removing device notification sounds and adding a pop-up to each page which provides information about the features of the app on first use.

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