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Analysis Identifies Effective College Drinking Interventions

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Internet and face-to-face individuals counseling were most effective in curbing college drinking, whereas mail and group feedback did little to change drinking habits, according to a systematic review of previously published research on college alcohol use.

HealthDay News reported July 20 that researchers from Oxford Brookes University in England reviewed 22 past studies and found that 62 percent of students receiving Internet-based interventions reported reductions in their drinking, as did 65 percent of students who received in-person, one-on-one counseling.

The researchers expressed support for social-norms prevention focused on perception of alcohol consumption, saying that students might drink less if they knew that their friends weren't drinking as much as they did. However, one expert also expressed surprise that group interventions were found to be ineffective.

“By providing normative information to a group, I would have expected that it would provide a level of social support for refusal,” said Jeanie Alter, program manager and lead evaluator of the Indiana Prevention Resource Center at Indiana University's School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation. “A similarly minded group usually would back you up in your decision not to use.”

The review was published in the June 19, 2009 issue of the Cochrane Library

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