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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Brown Researchers Evaluate a Text Message Intervention for Alcohol Risk Reduction among Community College Students

Excessive alcohol use is the third-leading preventable cause of death in the United States, and is a widespread problem among college students. Nearly half of all community college students engage in heavy alcohol use, and are at a higher risk for negative consequences of heavy drinking compared to students at residential colleges. Despite their high risk and that these students comprise 45 percent of all college students nationwide, there have been relatively little effort to assess and intervene with community college students on alcohol-related issues.

The purpose of this study, led by Dr. Beth Bock, Professor of Behavioral and Social Sciences and faculty member in the Centers for Behavioral and Preventative Medicine, was to examine the feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary efficacy of an alcohol risk-reduction program designed for community college students and delivered through text messaging. A total of sixty heavy drinking community college students were enrolled and randomized to the text message intervention or a control condition of general motivational text messages. Text Message Alcohol Program, or TMAP, was a six week intervention that included text messages consisting of alcohol facts, strategies to limit alcohol use and related risks, and motivational messages.

Almost all participants (87 percent) completed all follow up assessments. At the end of the six week intervention, TMAP participants were less likely than controls to report heavy drinking and negative alcohol consequences. Participants receiving TMAP texts rated the messages positively, with an average rating of 6.8 on a 10 point scale. The TMAP group also showed significant increases in self-efficacy to resist drinking in high risk situations between baseline and week six, with no such increase among controls. Results were maintained though the week twelve follow up.

Results of this study indicate that the TMAP alcohol risk reduction program was feasible and highly acceptable indicated by high retention rates and good ratings for the text message content. Reductions in multiple outcomes provide positive indications of intervention efficacy. This study provides preliminary evidence that a text message-based intervention can be effective in improving alcohol-related behaviors among community college students.

This study was published in Addictive Behaviors, Volume 63, 2016.

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