There is a wide range of negative consequences, which can occur as a result of college drinking. These consequences have been found to be associated with higher alcohol consumption and stronger positive peer and personal attitudes towards drinking especially in members of Greek Life Organizations. While the consequences of problematic drinking and their associations with normative peer behaviors and attitudes have been widely studied, less is known about how direct peer influences may differentially affect individual behaviors and experiences of consequences. This research proposal is focused on addressing this gap by the examination of individual and organizational networks of students at high risk for hazardous alcohol consumption. It will examine the relationships between network characteristics and individuals' alcohol consumption, attitudes, and experiences of alcohol problems. This will be achieved by applying the use of Social Network Analysis to assess the relationships between individual characteristics and behaviors and organizational network characteristics. A sample of eight Greek Life Organizations will be recruited from a large diverse public university. Participants will be asked to complete an online survey assessing their attitudes, behaviors, and experienced consequences of drinking. Additionally participants will provide information about their closest friends and relationships with the other members of their chapter and the strength of these associations. This affiliative information allows the research team to construct organization networks designed to examine the distribution of drinking behaviors, attitudes, and problems. Data analysis will examine the network characteristics associated with drinking behaviors and consequences and the impact of changes in those characteristics over time. Two additional assessments will be conducted with each Greek Life organization over the course of 12 months. Findings from this study will be used the help design targeted interventions which account for the impact of social network factors. By adapting existing interventions we hope to improve their effectiveness and efficacy in this population. This proposed research project supports the mission of the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) as it focuses on enhancing the understanding of peer influences on alcohol consumption and network influence on experiences of health risks and benefits associated with alcohol consumption. The completion of this work will augment NIAAA missions to understand the outcomes of alcohol consumption, and enhance knowledge used to create effective prevention, and treatment programs. The findings of this project will be presented and disseminated to researchers, education administrators, students, policy makers, and the public, as is in line with the strategic planning goals of NIAAA. In conclusion, the award and completion of this project will afford substantial training in ethics, methodologies, statistics, and writing,to a promising young researcher and will address the significant need for innovative research on social network analysis, alcohol consumption, and interventions.
Problems, which result from alcohol consumption, can produce a wide range of physical and emotional consequences. The broad objective of this research project is to evaluate how social network position influences alcohol use, attitudes, and experienced alcohol consequences in Greek Life students. The achievement of this goal will be accomplished by analyzing the complex associations between attitudes, behaviors, and outcomes, strength of network affiliations, and network location to test the validity of more comprehensive relationships including network characteristics, and provide new insights to the associations between these behaviors to be used in future alcohol interventions.
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