College student alcohol abuse is a substantial public health problem. Over the last decade promising interventions have been developed and evaluated for at-risk college students, including brief motivational interventions. However, little is known about how these interventions facilitate behavior change in at-risk college students, and a considerable proportion of at-risk students continue to drink heavily even after receiving an intervention. There is a need for greater understanding of how these interventions contribute to reductions in alcohol use and problems in order to refine and improve treatment. Previous research has identified certain aspects of client speech (""""""""change talk"""""""") to be related to improved outcomes and other types of client speech (""""""""counter-change talk"""""""") to be related to worse outcomes. However, research thus far has failed to identify specific therapist behaviors or which components of an intervention affect these specific aspects of client speech. This project will conduct secondary data analyses with audiotapes of therapy sessions from a project delivering a brief motivational intervention with mandated college students who have been referred for violating alcohol policies. Therapist and client behaviors will be coded to identify how specific within-session therapist behaviors and intervention components are related to client change talk and counter-change talk, and how this type of client speech is related to later changes in alcohol use and alcohol-related problems. This study will improve our understanding of how brief motivational interventions bring about changes in alcohol use and problems, which will allow us to more effectively address public health problems associated with college student alcohol abuse. The long-term objective of this line of research is to improve alcohol interventions to be more effective for the greatest numbers of clients under diverse conditions.

Public Health Relevance

Almost one fifth of college students report frequent heavy drinking, and are more likely to experience serious health consequences, such as injuries or unplanned or forced sex. Alcohol use also contributes to nearly 2,000 deaths among college students per year. Knowledge generated from this study will allow us to improve future alcohol interventions to be more effective at reducing public health problems associated with college student alcohol abuse.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Risk, Prevention and Intervention for Addictions Study Section (RPIA)
Program Officer
Hilton, Michael E
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Children's Mercy Hosp (Kansas City, MO)
Kansas City
United States
Zip Code
Yurasek, Ali M; Merrill, Jennifer E; Metrik, Jane et al. (2017) Marijuana use in the context of alcohol interventions for mandated college students. J Subst Abuse Treat 79:53-60
Miller, Mary Beth; Brett, Emma I; Leavens, Eleanor L et al. (2016) Informing alcohol interventions for student service members/veterans: Normative perceptions and coping strategies. Addict Behav 57:76-82
Miller, Mary Beth; Merrill, Jennifer E; Yurasek, Ali M et al. (2016) Summer Versus School-Year Alcohol Use Among Mandated College Students. J Stud Alcohol Drugs 77:51-7
Borsari, Brian; Merrill, Jennifer E; Yurasek, Ali et al. (2016) Does a Brief Motivational Intervention Reduce Frequency of Pregaming in Mandated Students? Subst Use Misuse 51:1056-66
Borsari, Brian; Magill, Molly; Mastroleo, Nadine R et al. (2016) Mandated college students' response to sequentially administered alcohol interventions in a randomized clinical trial using stepped care. J Consult Clin Psychol 84:103-12
Apodaca, Timothy R; Jackson, Kristina M; Borsari, Brian et al. (2016) Which Individual Therapist Behaviors Elicit Client Change Talk and Sustain Talk in Motivational Interviewing? J Subst Abuse Treat 61:60-5
Miller, Mary Beth; Borsari, Brian; Fernandez, Anne C et al. (2016) Drinking Location and Pregaming as Predictors of Alcohol Intoxication Among Mandated College Students. Subst Use Misuse 51:983-92
Borsari, Brian; Apodaca, Timothy R; Jackson, Kristina M et al. (2015) In-session processes of brief motivational interventions in two trials with mandated college students. J Consult Clin Psychol 83:56-67
Yurasek, Ali M; Borsari, Brian; Magill, Molly et al. (2015) Descriptive norms and expectancies as mediators of a brief motivational intervention for mandated college students receiving stepped care for alcohol use. Psychol Addict Behav 29:1003-11
Moser, Kevin; Pearson, Matthew R; Hustad, John T P et al. (2014) Drinking games, tailgating, and pregaming: precollege predictors of risky college drinking. Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse 40:367-73

Showing the most recent 10 out of 23 publications