Knowing How Much Less Other Students Drink Helps Heavy Drinking College Students Cut Back
College students who drink heavily often wrongly believe that their peers drink equivalently, but when heavy drinking college students receive accurate information about the quantity consumed by peers; they reduce their own drinking.
Could simple web based feedback about normal levels of alcohol consumption reduce alcohol use disprders and binge drinking on college campuses?
Researchers at The Cochrane Library, (an independent organization that evaluates medical and health care research to reach evidence based recommendations) examined a total of 22 studies that evaluated college drinking, 21 of which occurred on American college campuses.
In these 22 studies, students were placed in control or intervention groups. Students in the intervention groups received feedback about the drinking habits of other college students as well as accurate information about how much money they were spending on alcohol, precisely how much they were drinking, how many calories they were consuming and any health risks associated with their level of consumption.
Feedback was delivered in person, over the web, by mail or in a group setting.
The researchers found that when heavy drinking students received feedback over the web, 65% of these students reduced their drinking (a reduction across frequency, total amount and session amount) and 62% self-reported a reduction in alcohol related problems.
When heavy drinking students received in-person counseling and feedback, 63% reduced their drinking frequency.
Intervention by mail or in groups however, did not produce any significant reduction effect.
The research reviewers call for additional studies on feedback interventions to reduce excessive alcohol use in certain environments.