Student peer mentoring: Feasibility and acceptability of mHealth-based tool for alcohol and substance abuse prevention by peer mentors at a university in Kenya
The use of mobile health (mHealth)-based interventions for the prevention of alcohol and other psychoactive substances use is an emerging practice for which new evidence is required. This study evaluated the feasibility and acceptability of a mHealth-based peer mentoring tool for early screening, brief intervention, and referral of students who abuse alcohol and other psychoactive substances. It compared the implementation of a mHealth-delivered intervention to the paper-based practice that is the standard at the University of Nairobi.
A quasi-experimental study using purposive sampling was used to select a cohort of n = 100 (51 experimental, 49 control) first-year student peer mentors on two campuses of the University of Nairobi in Kenya. Data were collected on the mentors’ sociodemographic characteristics as well as the feasibility and acceptability of the interventions by way of, the magnitude of reach, feedback to investigators, referral of cases, and perceived ease of use.
The mHealth-based peer mentoring tool scored high with 100% of users rating it as feasible and acceptable. Among the two study cohorts, there were no differences in the acceptability of the peer mentoring intervention. When comparing the feasibility of the peer mentoring practice, actual use of the interventions, and intervention reach, the mHealth-based cohort mentored four mentees for every one mentored by the standard practice cohort.
The mHealth-based peer mentoring tool had high feasibility and acceptability among student peer mentors. The intervention provided evidence for the need to expand the availability of screening services for alcohol and other psychoactive substances use among students in the university and promote the appropriate management practices within and outside the university.