A new study concludes that off-campus drinking by college students was reduced 27 percent by implementing community-level prevention programs, Reuters reported on June 18.
Researchers surveyed more than 6,000 students and found a significant decrease in the percentage who reported binge drinking during the previous two weeks at a pair of schools that implemented community-based programs; meanwhile, the binge drinking rose among students at a control school that did not have a community-based prevention strategy. Frequency of binge drinking at the intervention schools also remained stable, while it increased significantly at the control school, the study found.
Western Washington University in Bellingham, Wash., used the Neighborhoods Engaging with Students (NEST) program, which involved increasing police patrols to find off-campus parties and enforcement of underage drinking laws, as well as providing forums for students, local residents and police to talk about issues such as disruptive parties. Underage students cited for alcohol possession were also required to perform community service.
Researcher Robert F. Saltz, Ph.D., of the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation and colleagues said, “The prevention field has reason to be optimistic that environmental interventions can achieve good outcomes in a relatively short time across very different organizational contexts,” although the authors added that “it may prove difficult to maintain students' attention to the enforcement after the novelty wears off.”
The study is published in the July 2009 issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.