A randomized clinical trial comparing the efficacy of two active conditions of a brief intervention for heavy college drinkers

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Brief interventions for college heavy drinkers have shown promise in reducing drinking and alcohol-related negative consequences. However, intervention duration, content, method of delivery, and follow-up length vary across studies. It therefore remains unclear whether intervention length significantly influences the interventions' efficacy. The present study is a randomized clinical trial systematically evaluating the efficacy of two brief interventions aimed at reducing alcohol use and alcohol-related negative consequences among college student drinkers. Treatment mediators were also evaluated. Participants (N=278) were, on average, 20.1 years old (SD=2.4), mostly Caucasian (87%) and female (71%). They were randomly assigned to a 10-minute brief intervention, a 50-minute brief intervention, or an attention-control group. Both active interventions were provided by clinical graduate students trained in Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students (BASICS). As hypothesized, participants in both active conditions significantly reduced their alcohol consumption, as compared to the control group participants F(2,264)=9.84, p=.00, η(2)=.07. There were no significant differences in alcohol-related negative consequences F(2,264)=3.08, p=.06, η(2)=.02. The hypothesized mediators, alcohol drinking norms and coping behavioral strategies, explained significant variance in intervention efficacy, but neither self-efficacy nor alcohol expectancies were significant mediators. Given the preliminary nature of our investigation, more research is warranted to determine parameters of the critical mechanisms of change within brief alcohol interventions with college student drinkers.

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Addictive behaviors

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