Young adult veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan represent a population at-risk for heavy and problematic alcohol use. Unfortunately, few seek treatment for alcohol concerns and those that do seek care may drop out from lengthy multi component treatments. Additionally, veterans who live in rural areas and those who are not engaged in the Veterans Affairs Healthcare System (VA) are often overlooked, difficult to engage in treatment, and may not be actively seeking treatment for heavy patterns of use that may develop into an alcohol use disorder. The objective of this proposed study is to develop and pilot test a brief single-session alcohol intervention with young adult veterans to help them reduce their drinking and prevent the development of problematic alcohol use. Recruitment and intervention is delivered entirely over the Internet to address barriers to seeking care among this at-risk group. The online intervention consists of a single module of lengthier multi component motivational enhancement interventions -- personalized normative feedback (PNF). PNF has established efficacy as a stand-alone intervention with young adult college students, but has not yet been empirically supported for the at-risk veteran population. PNF provides individuals with accurate information to reduce misperceptions regarding the frequency and acceptability of risky peer behavior. The proposed study will consist of two phases to meet the goal of providing support for an easily accessible, brief and engaging, and age-appropriate online-based PNF intervention that can reach a wide range of young adult veterans in the community. Phase 1 is designed to collect drinking data among a sample of 800 young adult veterans to examine the associations between perceptions of peer behavior and actual behavior to document which specific perceptions are most influential on behavior within this group. Examination of the Phase 1 data will inform the content and help develop the Phase 2 intervention pilot study, which will utilize a sample of 600 young adult veterans (300 PNF intervention condition, 300 control condition) to examine the efficacy of a single-session targeted PNF intervention on reducing perceived norms, intentions to drink, actual drinking behavior, and consequences. Specific subpopulations of this veteran population, including those with mental health concerns and those differentiated by demographic and military characteristics, level of drinking problems, and connection to peers, will be examined to support generalizability of the intervention. This intervention has the potential to improve veteran health care by utilizing a novel approach to increase access to care, assist with drinking reductions, and prevent alcohol-related problems.
This research seeks to provide preliminary support for a brief, single-session, and low-cost Internet-based intervention targeted toward reducing heavy drinking and preventing alcohol-related consequences among young adult veterans. The aims of this study are designed to inform the development of a large-scale randomized trial of the intervention that can help overcome barriers to care, generalize to reach a wide range of individuals within this at-risk veteran group, and help to alleviate personal;familial;and societl costs resulting from alcohol abuse in this population.
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