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Perception May Affect Drinking by College Students
Date:7/20/2009

What they think peers are doing seems to matter, expert surmise,,

MONDAY, July 20 (HealthDay News) -- If college students knew their friends really weren't drinking as much as it might seem, they might cut back on alcohol, a new study suggests.

Researchers from Oxford Brookes University in England reviewed 22 studies that included nearly 7,275 students, most in the United States. The researchers divided the students into two groups: those who participated in intervention programs designed to help them decrease their alcohol consumption and students who didn't.

Interventions included education about the risks of drinking heavily, information about how much college students normally drink and education about their own drinking habits, including quantity consumed, caloric intake and money spent on alcohol.

Interventions involved several methods, including mail or Internet as well as face-to-face individual or group counseling.

Across the board, college students tended to be heavy drinkers, the study found.

Web-based and individual, face-to-face counseling were the most effective in curtailing drinking, whereas mail and group feedback had little impact on students' drinking habits, according to the study, published in the June 19 issue of the Cochrane Library.

"There were only a small number of good-quality studies that we could draw on to make this somewhat tentative conclusion," said study co-author David Foxcroft of Oxford Brookes University said in a news release from the Health Behavior News Service. "More research is definitely needed."

In three studies using Web feedback, 62 percent of the students reported a reduction in alcohol-related problems and a 1.2-point reduction in the Rutgers Alcohol Problem Index, a 23-item questionnaire geared to adolescents, the reviewers found.

After a three-month follow-up, 65 percent of the students reported that
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