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Interventions work to stem freshman drinking
Date:1/23/2014

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] -- A new systematic review of data published in more than 40 studies of freshman alcohol interventions finds that there are many effective ways for colleges to mitigate common drinking patterns and problems among new students.

Based on their findings, published online Jan. 20 in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, the team of researchers at Brown University and The Miriam Hospital recommend that colleges screen all freshmen within their first few weeks for alcohol risk and offer effective combinations of interventions for those who report drinking.

"Adoption of our recommended strategies would enable colleges to become more proactive that is, targeting interventions to those students who have initiated alcohol use and may experience some alcohol-related problems but before their alcohol use meets criteria for alcohol dependence or abuse," said study lead author Lori Scott-Sheldon, a psychiatry and human behavior assistant professor (research) at Brown and researcher in the Centers for Behavioral and Preventive Medicine at The Miriam.

Even the best interventions studied don't completely stop freshman from drinking, but even their "small effect sizes" can have a large impact when implemened broadly a phenomenon known as the "Prevention Paradox." That is, small changes on the individual level sum to large effects on the population of students on a campus.

"College drinking is one of those cases where the majority of harms or alcohol-related problems that accumulate on a campus can be attributed not to the relatively small number of really problematic drinkers, but to the majority of moderate drinkers because there are so many of them," said co-author Kate Carey, a professor in the Brown University School of Public Health. "Thus small effect sizes mean that any given person may change just a little as a result of an intervention, but when we expand the effects to the
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Contact: David Orenstein
david_orenstein@brown.edu
401-863-1862
Brown University
Source:Eurekalert

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