NIH-supported studies show online course helps reduce harmful college drinking
An online alcohol prevention course can help reduce harmful drinking among college freshmen, but the benefits in the fall donít last through the spring, according to a study supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), part of the National Institutes of Health.
Akinso: Research studies have shown that freshman year is an especially risky time for hazardous drinking among college students. Researchers point out that each year nearly 2,000 college students die from alcohol-related unintentional injuries; 696,000 students are assaulted by another student who has been drinking; and 97,000 students are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape. Now new research findings are showing that an online alcohol prevention tool can help reduce harmful drinking among college freshmen.
Dr. Hingson: The tool is called AlcoholEdu.
Akinso: Dr. Ralph Hingson is from the National Institutes of Health.
Hingson: Itís a web based intervention thatís administered to incoming freshmen to try to reduce and prevent college drinking problems.
Akinso: The course consists of five modules, four of which are typically offered in the late summer before freshmen arrive on campus, and one module that students complete during the early fall semester.
Hingson: One is an introduction that talks about the need to take the course. Introduces students to whatís called standard drink size for different alcohol beverages. Second module deals with getting facts about alcohol. And then thereís a module about deciding for themselves what they want their own behavior to be. They try to identify studentsí goals in college and strategies to achieve those goals and then harm reduction strategies in dealing with alcohol like limiting how many drinks one has on an occasion.
Akinso: Researchers conducted a randomized trial of the course at 30 public and private universities in the United States. Incoming freshmen at half of the universities took the course, while students at the other schools received whatever alcohol prevention programs those schools normally provide to new students. The study also included surveys that assessed the studentsí past-30-day alcohol use, average number of drinks per occasion, and binge drinking frequency. Dr. Hingson explains that the course helped, to a point.
Hingson: What the study found was that there were in fact reductions in past 30 day alcohol use in binge drinking and experiencing alcohol problems with the trouble with police or school authorities, and victimization either crime or sexual victimization. But unfortunately the beneficial effects were seen only during the fall semester of freshmen year.
Akinso: The researchers say their findings show that this Internet-based prevention course can be a useful component of an overall strategy. They conclude that use of the course should be reinforced with effective environmental prevention strategies, for example reducing alcohol availability, raising prices, and limiting alcohol promotions and advertising on and around campus. For more information on this study and the course, visit www.niaaa.nih.gov. This is Wally Akinso at the NIH, Bethesda, Maryland.
About This Audio Report
Reporter: Wally Akinso
Sound Bite: Dr. Hingson
Topic: Alcohol, binge, drinking, college, freshman
Additional Info: http://www.nih.gov/news/health/