Key Research & Summaries

Presentations and Discussion from the 2012 & 2011 NASPA Alcohol & Other Drug Abuse Prevention & Intervention Conferences

Individual-focused college student drinking prevention: What works, what might and what doesn’t.

Cronce, J.

Presentation delivered at NASPA alcohol & other drug abuse prevention & intervention conference, Atlanta, GA.

Individual-focused college student drinking prevention: Revisiting the 2002 NIAAA Task Force Report.

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Cronce, J.

Presentation delivered at NASPA alcohol & other drug abuse prevention & intervention conference, Atlanta, GA.

Spotlight Panel: Choosing an online alcohol education program.

Kilmer, J.

Panel delivered at NASPA alcohol & other drug abuse prevention & intervention conference, Miami, FL.

Outcome Studies Published in Peer Reviewed Journals

A test of the efficacy of a brief, web-based personalized feedback intervention to reduce drinking among 9th grade students.

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Doumas, D. M., Esp, S., Turrisi, R., Hausheer, R., & Cuffee, C.

Alcohol use increases substantially during the transition from middle school to high school. This study tested a brief, web-based personalized feedback program aimed at reducing risk factors for drinking, alcohol use, and alcohol-related consequences among 9th grade students. At a 3-month follow-up, students in the intervention group showed positive results relative to those in the control group on variables associated with reduced risk, including positive alcohol expectancies and positive beliefs about alcohol. Students in the intervention group also reported a reduction in drinking frequency and alcohol-related consequences relative to those in the control group. There were, however, no differences in normative beliefs regarding peer drinking or quantity of weekly drinking between the two groups. Results indicate a brief, web-based personalized normative feedback program delivered in the school setting is a promising approach to reducing alcohol use and the associated consequences among 9th grade students.

Feedback-based alcohol interventions for mandated students: An effectiveness study of three modalities.

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Alfonso, Hall & Dunn, 2012

“Findings revealed statistically signifcant reductions in alcohol use and related harms for the individually delivered intervention, with signifcant reductions in alcohol-related harms for the electronically delivered intervention.” “This study adds to the literature by being the first randomized clinical trial to include analyses of an empirically supported individually delivered personalized alcohol feedback intervention with more cost-effective group-delivered and electronically delivered feedback formats within a single research design, by expanding the range of participant drinking habits reported at baseline to include all drinking levels and not solely those classified as ‘heavy drinking’ and by providing anonymity pre-intervention and post-intervention given the potential demand characteristics to underreport illegal and/or illicit behaviours in this vulnerable population.”

Evaluation of Web-Based and Counselor-Delivered Feedback Interventions for Mandated College Students

Doumas, D.M., Workman, C.R., Navarro, A. & Smith, D.

This study evaluated the efficacy of 2 brief personalized feedback interventions aimed at reducing drinking among mandated college students. Results indicated significant reductions in drinking for students in both conditions. Findings provide support for web-based interventions for mandated college students.

Reducing high-risk drinking in mandated college students: Evaluation of two personalized normative feedback interventions

Doumas, D.M., Workman, C.R., Smith, D. & Navarro, A.

This study evaluated the efficacy of two brief personalized normative feedback interventions aimed at reducing heavy drinking among mandated college students (N = 135). Students were randomly assigned to one of two conditions: Web-based assessment with self-guided personalized normative feedback (SWF) or Web-based assessment with counselor-guided personalized normative feedback (CWF). Results indicated that students in the CWF condition reported significantly greater reductions in weekly drinking quantity and binge drinking frequency than those in the SWF group at follow-up (M = 8 months). Students in the CWF group also reported significantly greater reductions in estimates of peer drinking from baseline to the follow-up assessment than students in the SWF group. In addition, changes in estimates of peer drinking partially mediated the effect of the intervention on changes in drinking. Results suggest that counselor-guided feedback may be more effective in reducing drinking among mandated students relative to self-guided feedback in the long term.

Decreasing Heavy Drinking in First-Year Students: Evaluation of a Web-Based Personalized Feedback Program Administered During Orientation

Doumas, D.M., Kane, C., Navarro, T.B. & Roman, J.

This study evaluated the effectiveness of a web-based personalized normative feedback program, electronic Check-Up to Go (e-CHUG), in decreasing heavy drinking among 1st-year university students. Results in¬dicated high-risk students receiving the e-CHUG program during 1st-year orientation activities reported significantly greater reductions in heavy drinking and alcohol-related consequences than did students in an assessment-only control group at a 3-month follow-up. Recommendations for integrating e-CHUG into orientation activities are discussed.

Reducing Heavy Drinking Among First Year Intercollegiate Athletes: A Randomized Controlled Trial of Web-Based Normative Feedback

Doumas, D.M., Haustveit, T. & Coll, K.M., 2010

"This study evaluated the efficacy of a web-based personalized normative feedback program targeting heavy drinking in first year intercollegiate athletes. The program was offered through the Athletic Department first year seminar at a NCAA Division I university. Athletes were randomly assigned to either a web-based feedback group or a comparison condition. Results indicated high-risk athletes receiving the intervention reported significantly greater reductions in heavy drinking than those in the comparison group. Additionally, intervention effects were mediated by changes in perceptions of peer drinking. Findings support the use of web-based normative feedback for reducing heavy drinking in first year intercollegiate athletes. "

"High-risk student athletes in the [e-CHUG] intervention group reported greater reductions in weekly drinking, frequency of drinking to intoxication, and peak alcohol consumption than those in the comparison condition, whereas changes in drinking for low-risk student athletes were similar across the two study conditions. High-risk student athletes in the [e-CHUG] intervention group reported a 46% reduction in weekly drinking quantity, 46% reduction in frequency of drinking to intoxication, and 32% reduction in peak drinking levels compared to increases of 21%, 6% , and 11% for each drinking variable, respectively, in the comparison group."

"Results of this study suggest providing a web-based personalized normative feedback program during the fall semester of the first year is effective for reducing heavy drinking in first year intercollegiate athletes. Implications for practitioners of sport psychology include using web-based feedback programs such as e-CHUG with their individual clients as part of therapy targeting the reduction of alcohol use as a treatment outcome."

Web-based alcohol prevention for incoming college students: A randomized controlled trial

Hustad, J. T. P., Barnett, N. P., Borsari, B., & Jackson, K. M., 2010

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"College students are an at-risk population based on their heavy alcohol consumption and associated consequences. First-year students are at particular risk due to greater freedom and access to alcohol on campus. Web-based (electronic) interventions (e-interventions) are being rapidly adopted as a universal approach to prevent high-risk drinking, but have not been well evaluated. The objective of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of the two most widely adopted EIs, AlcoholEdu and The Alcohol eCHECKUP TO GO (e-Chug), in reducing both alcohol use and alcohol-related consequences in incoming college students. To do so, we conducted a 3-group randomized trial (N = 82) comparing AlcoholEdu and e-Chug to an assessment-only control group. Compared to the assessment-only control group, participants in the AlcoholEdu and e-Chug groups reported lower levels of alcohol use across multiple measures at 1-month follow-up. Participants who received AlcoholEdu showed significantly fewer lower alcohol-related consequences than assessment-only controls, while there was a trend for reduced consequences in participants who received e-Chug versus assessment-only. Findings indicate that e-intervention is a promising prevention approach to address the problem of college student alcohol consumption, especially for campuses that have limited resources."

Decreasing heavy drinking in first year students: Evaluation of a web-based personalized feedback program administered during orientation.

Doumas, D. M., Kane, C. M., Navarro, T., & Roman, J., in press

"Despite prevention efforts, first year students remain a high-risk population for heavy drinking and alcohol-related consequences on college and university campuses. This study evaluated the effectiveness of a web-based personalized normative feedback program, “electronic Check-Up to Go” (e-CHUG), in decreasing heavy drinking among first year university students. First year orientation sections were randomly assigned to either the e-CHUG group or an assessment only control group. Students were classified as high-risk or low-risk drinkers using reports of binge drinking at the baseline assessment. Results indicated high-risk students receiving the e-CHUG program during first year orientation activities reported significantly greater reductions in heavy drinking and alcohol-related consequences than students in the assessment only control group at a 3 month follow-up. High-risk first year students in the e-CHUG group reported a 58% reduction in peak drinking, 65% reduction in frequency of drinking to intoxication, and 34% reduction in weekly drinking compared to 11%, 15%, and 10% increases, respectively, in the control group at the 3-month follow-up. Additionally, although both groups reported a decrease in alcohol-related consequences, high-risk students in the e-CHUG group reported an 80% reduction compared to a 39% reduction in the control group. Results of this study add to the growing body of literature suggesting providing web-based personalized feedback to first year students is a promising strategy for decreasing heavy drinking in this high-risk population."

Reducing alcohol use in first-year university students: Evaluation of a web-based personalized feedback program.

Doumas, D. M., & Anderson, L, 2009

"This study also provides additional evidence for the efficacy of e-CHUG in particular and is the first study to demonstrate the efficacy of e-CHUG administered as part of the 1st-year seminar curriculum in reducing alcohol-related problems for high-risk students. Because of the low cost, ease of dissemination, and growing empirical evidence associated with Web-based personalized feedback, this type of programming is ideal for colleges and universities with limited resources for prevention and intervention programming that need to target large numbers of students or that want to provide students unlimited program access across the year."

Dismantling motivational interviewing and feedback for college drinkers: A randomized clinical trial.

Walters, S.T., Vader, A.M., Harris, T.R., Field, C.A. & Jouriles, E.N., 2009

"At 6 months, MI [Motivational Interviewing] with feedback significantly reduced drinking, as compared with assessment only," "MI without feedback," "and feedback alone." "Neither MI alone nor feedback alone differed from assessment only." "Norm perceptions mediated the effect of the intervention on drinking. MI with feedback appears to be a robust intervention for reducing drinking and may be mediated by changes in normative perceptions."

A Controlled Trial of Web-based Feedback for Heavy Drinking College Students

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Walters, S. T., Vader, A. M., & Harris, T. R., 2007

Summary: e-CHUG feedback accelerated a decline in drinking over 16 weeks. The control group eventually caught up, but receipt of feedback pulled down drinking a lot earlier. Perceived norms were a strong mediator of the effect, which means that after receiving feedback, students became more accurate in their perceptions of their drinking in relation to others, and changes in these perceptions led to decreased drinking. Receipt of the feedback didn't harm abstainers.

Outcome Studies Presented at Professional Conferences

Comparison of an In-Class vs. Online Alcohol Diversion Program to Reduce Alcohol Consumption and Negative Consequences Among College Students: Findings from a 2-year study

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Salafsky, D., Moll, C. & Glider, P., The University of Arizona, 2007

This project examined the efficacy of in-class and on-line alcohol diversion programs. The in-class component included 6 hours of class time (3 sessions over 3 weeks) with an average class size of 15 and followed a standard lesson plan, with potential for variation due to discussion and instructor. The on-line component consisted of 3rd Millennium Classrooms’ “Under the Influence” program, which includes the e-CHUG.

The researchers concluded that both programs were effective and evidenced significant reductions in the respondents’ usual number of drinks consumed, perception of peer drinking, and negative consequences; with increases in protective behaviors.

Presented at the U.S. Department of Education’s 21st Annual National Meeting on Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse and Violence Prevention in Higher Education. October 18-21, 2007 Omaha, Nebraska.

Evaluating Personalized Alcohol Interventions

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Lane, D.J., & Schmidt, J.A., May 2007

Poster presented at the annual meeting of the Midwestern Psychological Association, Chicago, IL

A comparison of the effect on academic performance (grades and retention) of a comprehensive, online prevention program to a locally-developed hybrid program (face-to-face session combined with online assessment and feedback) to a no-treatment control group with first year university students.

The E-Chug: A Randomized, Controlled Study of a Web-Based Binge Drinking Intervention with College Freshmen

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Steiner, J. W., Woodall, W. G., & Yeagley, J. A., 2005

A randomized trial of the E-Chug web-based binge drinking intervention was conducted among college freshmen. Results indicated that participants who received the E-Chug significantly reduced their weekly alcohol consumption, and that this was particularly so for male participants. Implications for web-based approaches to risky alcohol consumption among college students are discussed.

Evaluation of e-CHUG integrated into two classroom-based alcohol interventions.

Henry, Lange & Wilson, 2004 and Wilson, Henry & Lange, 2005

Adding the e-CHUG to existing alcohol education programs has been shown to significantly reduced post intervention alcohol consumption. A study was designed combining the e-CHUG with two popular alcohol education curricula: Alcohol 101+ and CHOICES. A randomized trial with a non-treated comparison was conducted to test the effects of these curricula on consumption and knowledge transfer. Subjects who completed the e-CHUG alone reported consuming significantly fewer drinks than subjects in the control condition. No additive effects were observed for Choices or Alcohol 101+ programs on consumption measures. Knowledge transfer effects were detected for combined programs. The research referenced and linked below “indicate that regardless of classroom presentation curriculum (either CHOICES or Alcohol 101 plus), the addition of the e-CHUG significantly reduced reported consumption.”

Other Related Studies

Impact of an online alcohol education course on behavior and harm for incoming first-year college students: short-term evaluation of a randomized trial.

Croom, K., Lewis, D., Marchell, T., Lesser, M. L., Reyna, V. F., Kubicki-Bedford, L., Feffer, M., & Staiano-Coico, L, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, 2009

"The authors assessed short-term effectiveness of a Web-based alcohol education program on entering freshmen. ...Although the intervention group showed significantly higher alcohol-related postcourse knowledge compared to the control group, protective behavior, risk-related behavior, high-risk drinking, and alcohol-related harm did not favor the intervention group, with the sole exception of playing drinking games. Conclusions: Alcohol knowledge alone was insufficient to mitigate alcohol-related high-risk behaviors in this student population." (Emphasis added)

Web-Based Approaches to Alcohol and Other Drug Intervention

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Van Sickle, D. & Sokolow, B. A., 2006

Much has been said and written about how important it is for campus administrators and practitioners to select "evidence-based approaches" when implementing programs intended to deal with students' use and abuse of alcohol and other drugs. In order to vigorously and responsibly manage the persistent risks facing our campus communities and simultaneously promote the strongest student development programs, campuses must be guided in their program decisions by the best science and evidence available. So what does the "evidence" tell us about the effectiveness of our campuses’ approaches?

Demon rum: high-tech solutions to an age-old problem.

Walters, Hester, Chiauzzi, & Miller, 2005

This article summarizes the proceedings of a symposium at the 2004 Research Society on Alcoholism Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, organized and chaired by Scott T. Walters. The purpose of the symposium was to describe several brief motivational interventions offered via the Internet, including the evidence for web-based interventions, applications and contexts in which such approaches are being used, and directions for future research. Walters provided an overview and introduction to the topic and discussed the e-CHUG ( and e-TOKE ( feedback interventions for college alcohol and marijuana prevention, including the contexts in which they are being used and ways they are being integrated with other campus prevention efforts.

In praise of feedback: an effective intervention for college students who are heavy drinkers.

Walters, 2000

The efficacy of brief motivational feedback to reduce drinking among college students has been reported by several researchers. As an extension of this theoretical and applied framework, the author tested the use of mailed feedback to influence the drinking behavior of students self-identified as moderate-to-heavy drinkers in two randomized trials. A 6-week follow-up of the efforts suggested the efficacy of the feedback intervention at reducing alcohol consumption. The feedback mechanism used in the studies is described in detail and possible reasons for its efficacy are explored. In light of the cost-effective nature of this intervention, it may warrant a place in larger campus prevention programs.

Reducing alcohol use in college students: a controlled trial of two brief interventions.

Walters, Bennett & Miller, 2000

“This study tested two forms of alcohol reduction programming for college students. Thirty-seven moderate to heavy drinkers completed measures of quantity/frequency, drinking consequences, and attitude questionnaires. Participants were randomly assigned to one of three groups: 1) a two-hour information and motivation session plus mailed personal feedback on their drinking; 2) mailed feedback only; or 3) no treatment. At a 6-week follow-up session, the feedback-only group decreased drinks per month as compared to control. No other differences were statistically significant, though decreases favored the treatment conditions about equally over control. Implications for research and treatment are discussed.”

Marijuana-specific Outcome Studies Published in Peer Reviewed Journals

Correcting Exaggerated Marijuana Use Norms Among College Abstainers: A Preliminary Test of a Preventive Intervention

Elliott, J. & Carey K. B. (2013)

Objective: College students have high rates of marijuana initiation and use, and they report exaggerated perceptions of peers’ use. Computerized norm-correcting intervention programs have been developed, but minimal effi cacy research has been conducted, especially with regard to preventing the onset of marijuana use. The purpose of this pilot study was to evaluate the effi cacy of the Marijuana eCHECKUP TO GO (e-TOKE) for Universities & Colleges program in (a) correcting descriptive norms, (b) correcting injunctive norms, and (c) preventing initiation of marijuana use in a group of college-age abstainers.

Method: Participants were 245 college students (73% female) recruited from psychology courses for course credit who reported no marijuana use in the past month at baseline. Participants were randomized to receive the e-TOKE program or assessment only. All participants reported on marijuana use, descriptive norms, and injunctive norms 1 month later.

Results: Participants receiving the e-TOKE program estimated lower descriptive norms than the control group (p < .01), and fewer believed friends disapproved of their choice to abstain (p < .05). However, rates of use/initiation did not differ between the two conditions (p = .18). Conclusions: The current study provides preliminary evidence for the utility of the e-TOKE program in correcting abstainers’ misperceptions about others' marijuana use as well as making them perceive less disapproval for their abstention. However, more research with longer follow-ups is necessary to determine if changes in norms affect initiation rates over time.

A Preliminary Evaluation of a Web-based Intervention for College Marijuana Use

Elliott, J., Carey K. B. & Vanable, P. A. (In Press)