The Step Away Study - Frequently Asked Questions

  • What will this study ask me to do?

    First you need to find out if this study is a good fit for you, so you will need to take a short survey. (Recruitment is now complete so the survey is no longer active.) If you are a good fit and you agree to be in the study, you will be asked to take a longer survey that will ask you more about your current drinking habits. This will take about 30 minutes to do.

    When you have done the longer survey you will be sent instructions about using either an app or a chatbot to help you drink less or stop drinking, which you will be asked to use for 3 months. You will also receive a phone call from us two weeks after you are enrolled in the study to make sure things are going okay.

    At the end of 3 months you will be asked to take another survey about your drinking habits. You may also be asked to participate in an interview about how using the app or chatbot went for you.

  • How long is this study?
    This study will take about 3 months.
  • How will I know if I'm selected to participate in the study?

    First you will need to take a short survey to see if you're a good fit for the study. (Recruitment is now complete so the survey is no longer active.) If you are a good fit, at the end of that survey you will get a message saying that we think you are a good fit. You will then be asked to complete a consent form. This consent form will give you more information about the study so that you can decide whether you want to take part or not. If you do want to take part, you just need to complete the form. You will then be asked to take a longer survey. 

    Once you have done the longer survey you will get an email from us letting you know you are now in the study and give you more information about what will come next. 

    You can stop taking part in the study at any time.

  • What information will you collect about me?

    We will ask for contact information (email address, phone number) so that we can send you information about using either the app or the chatbot, and to check in with you to make sure that everything is going okay. Your email address should be one you check regularly (we will send  your $25 Amazon egift card to that email address). 

    We will also ask about your past and current drinking habits and how you use the app or the chatbot. We will also collect information from you that might help us make the app or chatbot better. 

  • What about confidentiality?

    Your study data will be handled as confidentially as possible. Study staff will protect your personal information closely so no one will be able to connect your responses and any other information that identifies you. Directly identifying information (e.g. names, email addresses, phone numbers) will be safeguarded and maintained under controlled conditions. You will not be identified in any publication from this study.

    To help us protect your privacy we have a Certificate of Confidentiality from the National Institutes of Health. With this Certificate, the researchers cannot be forced to disclose information that may identify you, even by a court subpoena, in any federal, state, or local civil, criminal, administrative, legislative, or other proceedings. The researchers will use the certificate to resist any demands for information that would identify you, except as explained below. The certificate cannot be used to resist a demand for information from personnel of the United States Government that is used for auditing or evaluation of federally funded projects or for information that must be disclosed in order to meet the requirements of the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

    A Certificate of Confidentiality does not prevent you or a member of your family from voluntarily releasing information about yourself or your involvement in this research. If an insurer, employer, or other person obtains your written consent to receive research information, then the researchers may not use the Certificate to withhold that information.

    A description of this study will be available on as required by U.S. law. This web site will not include information that can identify you. At most, the web site will include a summary of the results. You can search this web site at any time.

  • Why do you need my phone number?

    We will be calling everyone who is in the study two weeks after they start to introduce ourselves, to make sure that you're doing okay and not feeling any distress, and to make sure the app or the chatbot is working properly.

  • Why do you need my email address?

    We need your email address to contact you about being in the study, what to do next, and to send your $25 Amazon egift card for participating, so it should be an email you check regularly. 

  • How will I know if I'm going to get to use the app or the chatbot?
    After you finish the first 30 minute survey, you will be randomly placed into one of three groups. You will get an email from us with a code for either the app or the chatbot and some information about what to do next. 
  • I'm enrolled in the study and I have quesions. Who do I talk to about my study participation?

    You can call 1-833-786-0877 from anywhere in the United States to speak with either Robyn Mertz (graduate research assistant) or Alexandra Edwards (project manager). If you're calling from Anchorage, Alaska, please call 786-0877. 

    If you are calling with questions outside of regular business hours you will need to leave a message with your contact phone number. We will return your call the next business day.

  • I just took a survey, why do I have to do another one? 

    The first survey was to make sure that this study is a good fit for you. The next survey is a longer one that will ask more detailed questions about your drinking and how you feel about it right now. Three months after you start using the app or the chatbot you will be asked to take another survey to find out how well the app or the chatbot worked for you.

  • When do I get my Amazon egift card?

    You will receive an Amazon e-gift card when you finish the first long survey. You will receive another Amazon e gift card in 3 months, after you finish the second long survey.

    If you are selected to be interviewed, you will receive a third Amazon egift card.

  • Who do I contact if I'm having problems with the app or the chatbot?

    Please email You can also call 1-833-786-0877 from anywhere in the United States or 786-0877 if you are in Anchorage, Alaska.

  • My question isn't listed here.

    Please contact Robyn Mertz or Alexandra Edwards at 1-833-786-0877 from anywhere in the United States or 786-0877 if you are in Anchorage, Alaska, or email Please let us know what the issue or question you have in your message or email. 

    If you leave a voicemail message or send an email, we will contact you the next business day.

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Below are some numbers to share with a loved one or use yourself if you need to talk.

Veterans can send a text to 838-255 or use the online chat at or visit