The primary purpose of this research is to evaluate the effectiveness of an intervention strategy to reduce the extent of heavy episodic drinking among first-year college students. Approximately 40% of college students are heavy episodic drinkers, defined as consuming five or more drinks on a single occasion for men (four or more drinks for women) at least once in the past 2 weeks. Heavy episodic drinking is associated with many academic, social, and health-related problems. Self-regulation models, which aim to enable individuals to identify goals and use such skills as stimulus control and reinforcement to trigger desirable behaviors, have been successfully used to prevent harmful drinking. Motivational interviewing (MI) is an approach that is consistent with a self-regulation model of behavior change. The goal of MI is to trigger self-regulation processes, such as encouraging individuals to evaluate their present condition, weighing the costs and benefits of changing or not changing, and committing to change. Despite general enthusiasm for these approaches, few studies have systematically investigated the effectiveness of MI with college students. Five MI studies with college students were identified and collectively have indicated that MI is a viable approach with young adults. However, the preliminary success of these studies needs to be expanded using a larger population and an extended follow-up period, and the separate and combined effects of motivational interviewing and feedback have not been tested. Thus, the present research will use a three-group design to test MI and MI plus feedback (MI+FB) interventions compared with an assessment-only condition (AO) in a sample of college freshmen. The design will evaluate the effectiveness of the interventions and identify demographic and psychological profiles of students for whom the intervention seems to be successful versus those for whom it is less effective. The research will investigate the cost and cost-effectiveness of using MI approaches in college populations. Participants will be randomly assigned to MI, MI+FB, or AO conditions. All participants will provide data regarding drinking and related problems at baseline and at 3, 6, and 12 months post-intervention. Analyses will focus on (a) determining the effectiveness of the interventions for reducing alcohol use and alcohol-related problems, (b) elucidating the mediational role of hypothesized mechanisms of change, and (c) testing the moderating impact of a number of individual and environmental characteristics. Findings will help to establish the efficacy of MI and MI+FB interventions for reducing heavy episodic drinking and related problems.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
Research Project (R01)
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Health Services Research Review Subcommittee (AA)
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Shirley, Mariela
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Research Triangle Institute
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