Specific Prevention Intervention





Article Summary: Internet-Based Personalized Feedback to Reduce 21st-Birthday Drinking: A Randomized Controlled Trial of an Event-Specific Prevention Intervention

Many young people take their twenty-first birthday celebrations very seriously. Twenty-one is the legal age of drinking and those celebrating their birthdays take advantage of this day to celebrate their freedom. This has led to incidents such as deaths and hospitalizations. Parents, communities and hospital administrators have raised concern over this rite of passage that is most common in college students.

Some of the efforts that have been used previously to prevent this rite of twenty-first birthday drinking include mailed birthday cards containing normative intervention. However, this was found to have limited effectiveness. Providing information such as avoiding drinking games, limiting the number of drinks among other measures was found to reduce extreme drinking. These interventions were found to be effective in cases where the student planned to drink heavily on their twenty-first birthday (Neighbors, et al.). The study is aimed at evaluating the efficacy of web-based interventions.

Participants were selected from large universities, totaling 295 in number. Students were sent emails requesting their participation one week before their twenty-first birthdays. They were screened based on their intention to consume alcohol. The participants were contacted the day before their birthdays and four days after with a link to the web personalized feedback. The control group was only contacted four days after but not before their twenty-first birthdays. The participants were given a list of behaviors to reduce extreme drinking including spacing drinks and alternating between alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Hierarchal multiple regression was used to measure the efficacy of the intervention (Neighbors, et al.). From the results, the blood alcohol levels intentions were highly correlated with the levels reached on the twenty-first birthday drinking spree. The measures in the study include evaluating the efficacy of the intervention, perceived norms, and protective behaviors.

From the discussion of the findings, the web-based interventions were effective in reducing the blood alcohol levels of college students during their twenty-first birthdays. However, the limits were still over the legal limit of .08. Students who intended to reach a higher level, however, reached a lower threshold than they earlier planned. The web-based personalized interventions are useful because the drinking behavior of college students is not stable but fluctuates a lot. These interventions should be focused on those at the highest risk of extreme drinking. The main advantage of this study is that it is supported by empirical evidence. Students who had the intention to drink more were the most responsive to the web-based intervention.

Web-based interventions are much cheaper and consume less time. However, personalized feedback for twenty-first birthday drinking would be more effective if presented in person. An example of this is a hard copy of the interventions that would allow the students turning twenty-one to spend more time on the questionnaire. The study faced several limitations, the first of which is the low rate of participation. Abstainers and extreme drinkers are likely not to participate in the surveys (Neighbors,et al.). The second limitation is inconsistency in assessing the intentions of the strategy and the content provided in the intervention. Besides, self-reported levels of blood alcohol content became more inaccurate as the levels of intoxication increased. Students with higher levels may have reported lower levels. Third, the feedback programming did not allow the researchers to assess how long the participants viewed each page. Despite these limitations, the study makes a significant contribution to the analysis of the efficacy of preventive measures on extreme drinking among college students. Inclusion of norms and analysis of blood alcohol levels should be the main focus of future studies.

Works Cited

Neighbors, Clayton, et al. “Internet-based personalized feedback to reduce 21st-birthday drinking: A randomized controlled trial of an event-specific prevention intervention.” Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 77.1 (2009): 51.