14 November 2006 Anthropology update understanding of life sciences prevention

Life Sciences Weekly

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Data detailed in A successful social norms campaign to reduce alcohol misuse among college student-athletes have been presented. According to a study from the United States, This study examines the impact of a social norms intervention to reduce alcohol misuse among student-athletes. The intervention was designed to reduce harmful misperceptions of peer norms and, in turn, reduce personal risk. A comprehensive set of interventions communicating accurate local norms regarding alcohol use targeted student-athletes at an undergraduate college.

An anonymous survey of all student-athletes was conducted annually for 3 years (2001: n=414, 86% response; 2002: n=373, 85% response; and 2003: n=353, 79% response). A pre/post comparison of student-athletes was conducted separately for new and ongoing athletes at each time point to isolate any general time period effects from intervention effects. A cross-sectional analysis of student-athletes with varying degrees of program exposure was also performed.

The intervention substantially reduced misperceptions of frequent alcohol consumption and high-quantity social drinking as the norm among student-athlete peers. During this same time period, frequent personal consumption, high-quantity consumption, high estimated peak blood alcohol concentrations during social drinking, and negative consequences all declined by 30% or more among ongoing student-athletes after program exposure. In contrast, no significant differences across time were seen for new student-athletes each year with low program exposure. Among student-athletes with the highest level of program exposure, indications of personal misuse were at least 50% less likely on each measure when compared with student-athletes with the lowest level of program exposure, wrote H.W. Perkins and colleagues, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Department of Anthropology.

The researchers concluded: This social norms intervention was highly effective in reducing alcohol misuse in this high-risk collegiate subpopulation by intensively delivering data-based messages about actual peer norms through multiple communication venues.

Perkins and colleagues published the results of their research in the Journal of Studies On Alcohol (A successful social norms campaign to reduce alcohol misuse among college student-athletes. Journal of Studies On Alcohol, 2006;67(6):880-9).

For additional information, contact H.W. Perkins, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Dept. of Anthropology and Sociology, Geneva, New York 14456 U.S.

The publisher of the Journal of Studies On Alcohol can be contacted at: Alcohol Research Documentation Inc. Cent. Alcohol Stud Rutgers University, C, O Deirdre English, 607 Allison Rd., Piscataway, NJ 08854-8001, USA.