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A Brief Values-Based Intervention to Reduce Alcohol-Related Harm Among College Students

Steven M Edwards, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Alcohol use is a common occurrence among college students and the negative consequences associated with this use can be severe. Over 1,500 students are estimated to die every year due to alcohol-related injuries, including automobile fatalities, falls, drownings, suicides, homicides, and alcohol poisoning events. Although numerous empirically supported interventions exist, they primarily focus on addressing students' beliefs about normal drinking behaviors and reducing the quantity students are drinking. To supplement these interventions, there has been a shift to focus intervention efforts on "what students" are doing when they are drinking. Positive behavioral strategies (PBS) are specific behaviors students can utilize to minimize the harm of alcohol consumption, including identifying a designated driver and alternating alcoholic drinks with water. Guided and informed by self-determination theory (SDT), the purpose of this study was to test the efficacy of a novel, brief values-based standalone PBS intervention (VBI), in the greater usage of PBS and the reported fewer alcohol-related negative consequences when compared to an alcohol education control condition. Participants included 256 college students who reported they engaged in binge drinking in a 4-week period and consented to participate in research. Participants were randomly assigned to receive the VBI or alcohol education control. Pre-test measures were collected at the time of consent and post-test measures were collected 4 weeks later (follow-up). Analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) was used to assess intervention effects and a series of regression analyses were conducted to test three hypothesized mediation models. No significant differences with respect to overall PBS use or alcohol-related negative consequences between the VBI and control group were found at follow-up. In addition, the mediation hypotheses were not supported. In sum, the results of the study do not support the efficacy of the VBI to change PBS use or alcohol-related negative consequences at the time of follow-up. Various limitations of the study are identified. Additional intervention research is needed to continue development of brief and values-based alcohol interventions to reduce the costly negative consequences of alcohol use among college students.

Subject Area

Clinical psychology

Recommended Citation

Edwards, Steven M, "A Brief Values-Based Intervention to Reduce Alcohol-Related Harm Among College Students" (2018). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI10978152.