Page last updated: February 18, 2014

Moderation of a parent-based intervention on transitions in drinking

Parent-based interventions (PBIs) are an effective strategy to reduce problematic drinking among first-year college students. The current study examined the extent to which student-based characteristics, derived from the Theory of Planned Behaviour, moderated 3 PBI conditions: (i) prior to college matriculation (PCM); (ii) PCM with a booster during the fall semester; and (iii) after college matriculation. The moderator variables included injunctive and descriptive peer norms about alcohol use and attitudes toward alcohol use.

Using data from a randomised control trial delivered to 1,900 incoming college students, we examined differential treatment effects within 4 types of baseline student drinkers: (i) nondrinkers; (ii) weekend light drinkers (WLD); (iii) weekend heavy episodic drinkers; and (iv) heavy drinkers. The outcome variable was based on the transitions in drinking that occurred between the summer prior to college enrollment and the end of the first fall semester and distinguished between students who transitioned to 1 of the 2 risky drinking classes. The results indicated that injunctive norms (but not descriptive norms or attitudes) moderated the differential effects of the PBI with strongest effects for students whose parents received the booster. Differential effects also depended on baseline drinking class and were most pronounced among WLDs who were deemed “high-risk” in terms of injunctive peer norms.

The authors conclude that parental influence can remain strong for young adults who are transitioning to college environments, even among students with relatively high peer influence to drink alcohol. Thus, the Parent-based Intervention represents an effective tool to prevent escalation of alcohol use during the first year of college, when risk is highest and patterns of alcohol use are established. Source: Moderation of a Parent-Based Intervention on Transitions in Drinking: Examining the Role of Normative Perceptions and Attitudes Among High- and Low-Risk First-Year College Students. MJ. Cleveland, B. Hultgren, Lindsey Varvil-Weld, KA. Mallett, R. Turrisi, CC. Abar. Article first published online: 2 APR 2013. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. Volume 37, Issue 9, pages 1587–1594, September 2013.

All text and images © 2003 Alcohol In Moderation.