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Outreach, Enforcement Can Curb College Kids' Drinking: Study
Date:11/19/2010

By Madonna Behen
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Nov. 19 (HealthDay News) -- With alcohol-related deaths and injuries rising on U.S. college campuses, college officials are trying various ways to stem the tide of heavy drinking. One effort that targeted off-campus boozing shows some promise, researchers say.

A program at a group of public universities in California cut the level of heavy drinking at private parties and other locations by 6 percent, researchers report in the December issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

The so-called Safer California Universities study included measures such as stricter enforcement of local nuisance ordinances, police-run decoy operations, driving-under-the-influence checkpoints, and use of campus and local media to spread the word about the crackdown. It's one of the first studies of college drinking that focuses on the environment rather than on prevention aimed at individuals, the researchers said.

"The goal was to reduce the number of big parties, which are more likely to involve heavy drinking," said lead author Robert F. Saltz, senior research scientist at the Prevention Research Center, Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation in Berkeley, Calif.

"There's this mythology about college drinking that nothing works, and that if you do try to increase enforcement, students will just find some way around it," Saltz added. "But now we have direct evidence that these kinds of interventions can have a fairly significant impact."

Eight campuses of the University of California and six campuses in the California State University system were involved in the study. Half the schools were randomly assigned to the Safer program, which took effect the fall semesters of 2005 and 2006. Student surveys were completed by undergrads in four fall semesters (2003 through 2006), and researchers analyzed samples of 1,000 to 2,000 students per campus per year
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