The ‘Grog Survey App’, which is a joint collaboration between the University of Sydney, South Australia’s Aboriginal Drug and Alcohol Council and digital agency Nest, hopes to collect anonymous data that can be used to tackle alcohol and drug abuse.
The app asks questions such as: ‘What did you mostly drink full strength beer out of’ and uses pictures of alcoholic drinks and diagrams to encourage accurate answers.
Professor Kate Conigrave told the ABC:
"We wanted something that was totally confidential and anonymous, that someone could sit there and use the app on their own with the headphones on, and not have to be telling a person about what they're drinking."
In the past, phone surveys could be problematic as not everyone had access to a landline, and paper surveys could also be difficult as English may not be the preferred language of participants. The app comes in English but also in an Indigenous language (initially Pitjantjatjara).
Outreach workers and volunteers will head to Indigenous communities to ask people to complete the questionnaire. They will ask participants to take the survey twice, then there will be a clinical intervention to assess where they sit on the research spectrum.
If they are found to have a problem with alcohol they will be able to consult with a clinic to address it.
There are similar applications already available worldwide. In the United States, Primrose Healthcare recently launched an app designed to aid hepatitis C patients who struggle with alcohol abuse. The creators have claimed that users of the app have cut down their heavy drinking habits by sixty per cent, after just six weeks.
In the United Kingdom, ‘AlcoChange’ is an app developed by a team of liver specialists at University College London. It measures alcohol intake with a breathalyzer that attaches to smartphones and use GPS technology to send the user texts, encouraging them not to drink.
Interestingly, there are also apps available that will deliver alcohol to your door. In Australia, ‘Delivery Hero’ while also a food delivery service, connects with businesses to bring alcohol to you. In England, ‘Bevy’ promises alcohol delivered to your door in under thirty minutes, with availability lasting until 5am.