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Research Papers

Alcohol-Wise research showing raised retention rates and raised GPAs

Download Icon Western Illinois University study on Alcohol-Wise and e-CHUG. Lane D.J., & Schmidt, J.A. (May 2007)
A comparison of the effect on academic performance (grades and retention) of a comprehensive, online prevention program to a locally-developed hybrid program (face-to-face session combined with online assessment and feedback) to a no-treatment control group with first year university students.

Reducing Heavy Drinking Among First Year Intercollegiate Athletes: A Randomized Controlled Trial of Web-Based Normative Feedback

Doumas, D.M., Haustveit, T. & Coll, K.M., In press
"This study evaluated the efficacy of a web-based personalized normative feedback program targeting heavy drinking in first year intercollegiate athletes. The program was offered through the Athletic Department first year seminar at a NCAA Division I university. Athletes were randomly assigned to either a web-based feedback group or a comparison condition. Results indicated high-risk athletes receiving the intervention reported significantly greater reductions in heavy drinking than those in the comparison group. Additionally, intervention effects were mediated by changes in perceptions of peer drinking. Findings support the use of web-based normative feedback for reducing heavy drinking in first year
intercollegiate athletes."

"High-risk student athletes in the [e-CHUG] intervention group reported greater reductions in weekly drinking, frequency of drinking to intoxication, and peak alcohol consumption than those in the comparison condition, whereas changes in drinking for low-risk student athletes were similar across the two study conditions. High-risk student athletes in the [e-CHUG] intervention group reported a 46% reduction in weekly drinking quantity, 46% reduction in frequency of drinking to intoxication, and 32% reduction in peak drinking levels compared to increases of 21%, 6% , and 11% for each drinking variable, respectively, in the comparison group."

"Results of this study suggest providing a web-based personalized normative feedback program during the fall semester of the first year is effective for reducing heavy drinking in first year intercollegiate athletes. Implications for practitioners of sport psychology include using web-based feedback programs such as e-CHUG with their individual clients as part of therapy targeting the reduction of alcohol use as a treatment outcome."

Web-based alcohol prevention for incoming college students: A randomized controlled trial

Hustad, J. T. P., Barnett, N. P., Borsari, B., & Jackson, K. M., 2010
Download Icon Web Icon "College students are an at-risk population based on their heavy alcohol consumption and associated consequences. First-year students are at particular risk due to greater freedom and access to alcohol on campus. Web-based (electronic) interventions (e-interventions) are being rapidly adopted as a universal approach to prevent high-risk drinking, but have not been well evaluated. The objective of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of the two most widely adopted EIs, AlcoholEdu and The Alcohol eCHECKUP TO GO (e-Chug), in reducing both alcohol use and alcohol-related consequences in incoming college students. To do so, we conducted a 3-group randomized trial (N = 82) comparing AlcoholEdu and e-Chug to an assessment-only control group. Compared to the assessment-only control group, participants in the AlcoholEdu and e-Chug groups reported lower levels of alcohol use across multiple measures at 1-month Part 2. Participants who received AlcoholEdu showed significantly fewer lower alcohol-related consequences than assessment-only controls, while there was a trend for reduced consequences in participants who received e-Chug versus assessment-only. Findings indicate that e-intervention is a promising prevention approach to address the problem of college student alcohol consumption, especially for campuses that have limited resources."

Decreasing heavy drinking in first year students: Evaluation of a web-based personalized feedback program administered during orientation.

Doumas, D. M., Kane, C. M., Navarro, T., & Roman, J., in press
"Despite prevention efforts, first year students remain a high-risk population for heavy drinking and alcohol-related consequences on college and university campuses. This study evaluated the effectiveness of a web-based personalized normative feedback program, “electronic Check-Up to Go” (e-CHUG), in decreasing heavy drinking among first year university students. First year orientation sections were randomly assigned to either the e-CHUG group or an assessment only control group. Students were classified as high-risk or low-risk drinkers using reports of binge drinking at the baseline assessment. Results indicated high-risk students receiving the e-CHUG program during first year orientation activities reported significantly greater reductions in heavy drinking and alcohol-related consequences than students in the assessment only control group at a 3 month Part 2. High-risk first year students in the e-CHUG group reported a 58% reduction in peak drinking, 65% reduction in frequency of drinking to intoxication, and 34% reduction in weekly drinking compared to 11%, 15%, and 10% increases, respectively, in the control group at the 3-month Part 2. Additionally, although both groups reported a decrease in alcohol-related consequences, high-risk students in the e-CHUG group reported an 80% reduction compared to a 39% reduction in the control group. Results of this study add to the growing body of literature suggesting providing web-based personalized feedback to first year students is a promising strategy for decreasing heavy drinking in this high-risk population."

Reducing alcohol use in first-year university students: Evaluation of a web-based personalized feedback program.

Doumas, D. M., & Anderson, L, 2009
"This study also provides additional evidence for the efficacy of e-CHUG in particular and is the first study to demonstrate the efficacy of e-CHUG administered as part of the 1st-year seminar curriculum in reducing alcohol-related problems for high-risk students. Because of the low cost, ease of dissemination, and growing empirical evidence associated with Web-based personalized feedback, this type of programming is ideal for colleges and universities with limited resources for prevention and intervention programming that need to target large numbers of students or that want to provide students unlimited program access across the year."

Dismantling motivational interviewing and feedback for college drinkers: A randomized clinical trial.

Walters, S.T., Vader, A.M., Harris, T.R., Field, C.A. & Jouriles, E.N., 2009
"At 6 months, MI [Motivational Interviewing] with feedback significantly reduced drinking, as compared with assessment only," "MI without feedback," "and feedback alone." "Neither MI alone nor feedback alone differed from assessment only." "Norm perceptions mediated the effect of the intervention on drinking. MI with feedback appears to be a robust intervention for reducing drinking and may be mediated by changes in normative perceptions."

A Controlled Trial of Web-based Feedback for Heavy Drinking College Students

Download Icon Walters, S. T., Vader, A. M., & Harris, T. R., 2007
Summary: e-CHUG feedback accelerated a decline in drinking over 16 weeks. The control group eventually caught up, but receipt of feedback pulled down drinking a lot earlier. Perceived norms were a strong mediator of the effect, which means that after receiving feedback, students became more accurate in their perceptions of their drinking in relation to others, and changes in these perceptions led to decreased drinking. Receipt of the feedback didn't harm abstainers.

Outcome Studies Presented at Professional Conferences

Feedback-based alcohol interventions for mandated students: A randomized clinical trial comparing individual, group, and electronic formats.

Alfonso & Dunn, November, 2008

Comparison of an In-Class vs. Online Alcohol Diversion Program to Reduce Alcohol Consumption and Negative Consequences Among College Students: Findings from a 2-year study

PowerPoint Icon Salafsky, D., Moll, C. & Glider, P., The University of Arizona, 2007
This project examined the efficacy of in-class and on-line alcohol diversion programs. The in-class component included 6 hours of class time (3 sessions over 3 weeks) with an average class size of 15 and followed a standard lesson plan, with potential for variation due to discussion and instructor. The on-line component consisted of 3rd Millennium Classrooms’ “Under the Influence” program, which includes the e-CHUG.

The researchers concluded that both programs were effective and evidenced significant reductions in the respondents’ usual number of drinks consumed, perception of peer drinking, and negative consequences; with increases in protective behaviors.

Presented at the U.S. Department of Education’s 21st Annual National Meeting on Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse and Violence Prevention in Higher Education. October 18-21, 2007 Omaha, Nebraska.

Evaluating Personalized Alcohol Interventions

Download IconLane, D.J., & Schmidt, J.A., May 2007

Poster presented at the annual meeting of the Midwestern Psychological Association, Chicago, IL

A comparison of the effect on academic performance (grades and retention) of a comprehensive, online prevention program to a locally-developed hybrid program (face-to-face session combined with online assessment and feedback) to a no-treatment control group with first year university students.

The E-Chug: A Randomized, Controlled Study of a Web-Based Binge Drinking Intervention with College Freshmen

Download Icon Steiner, J. W., Woodall, W. G., & Yeagley, J. A., 2005
A randomized trial of the E-Chug web-based binge drinking intervention was conducted among college freshmen. Results indicated that participants who received the E-Chug significantly reduced their weekly alcohol consumption, and that this was particularly so for male participants. Implications for web-based approaches to risky alcohol consumption among college students are discussed.

Evaluation of e-CHUG integrated into two classroom-based alcohol interventions.

Henry, Lange & Wilson, 2004 and Wilson, Henry & Lange, 2005
Adding the e-CHUG to existing alcohol education programs has been shown to significantly reduced post intervention alcohol consumption. A study was designed combining the e-CHUG with two popular alcohol education curricula: Alcohol 101+ and CHOICES. A randomized trial with a non-treated comparison was conducted to test the effects of these curricula on consumption and knowledge transfer. Subjects who completed the e-CHUG alone reported consuming significantly fewer drinks than subjects in the control condition. No additive effects were observed for Choices or Alcohol 101+ programs on consumption measures. Knowledge transfer effects were detected for combined programs. The research referenced and linked below “indicate that regardless of classroom presentation curriculum (either CHOICES or Alcohol 101 plus), the addition of the e-CHUG significantly reduced reported consumption.”

Other Related Studies

Impact of an online alcohol education course on behavior and harm for incoming first-year college students: short-term evaluation of a randomized trial.

Croom, K., Lewis, D., Marchell, T., Lesser, M. L., Reyna, V. F., Kubicki-Bedford, L., Feffer, M., & Staiano-Coico, L, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, 2009
"The authors assessed short-term effectiveness of a Web-based alcohol education program on entering freshmen. ...Although the intervention group showed significantly higher alcohol-related postcourse knowledge compared to the control group, protective behavior, risk-related behavior, high-risk drinking, and alcohol-related harm did not favor the intervention group, with the sole exception of playing drinking games. Conclusions: Alcohol knowledge alone was insufficient to mitigate alcohol-related high-risk behaviors in this student population." (Emphasis added)

Web-Based Approaches to Alcohol and Other Drug Intervention

Download Icon Van Sickle, D. & Sokolow, B. A., 2006
Much has been said and written about how important it is for campus administrators and practitioners to select "evidence-based approaches" when implementing programs intended to deal with students' use and abuse of alcohol and other drugs. In order to vigorously and responsibly manage the persistent risks facing our campus communities and simultaneously promote the strongest student development programs, campuses must be guided in their program decisions by the best science and evidence available. So what does the "evidence" tell us about the effectiveness of our campuses’ approaches?

Demon rum: high-tech solutions to an age-old problem.

Walters, Hester, Chiauzzi, & Miller, 2005
This article summarizes the proceedings of a symposium at the 2004 Research Society on Alcoholism Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, organized and chaired by Scott T. Walters. The purpose of the symposium was to describe several brief motivational interventions offered via the Internet, including the evidence for web-based interventions, applications and contexts in which such approaches are being used, and directions for future research. Walters provided an overview and introduction to the topic and discussed the e-CHUG ( and e-TOKE ( feedback interventions for college alcohol and marijuana prevention, including the contexts in which they are being used and ways they are being integrated with other campus prevention efforts.

In praise of feedback: an effective intervention for college students who are heavy drinkers.

Download Icon Walters, 2000
The efficacy of brief motivational feedback to reduce drinking among college students has been reported by several researchers. As an extension of this theoretical and applied framework, the author tested the use of mailed feedback to influence the drinking behavior of students self-identified as moderate-to-heavy drinkers in two randomized trials. A 6-week Part 2 of the efforts suggested the efficacy of the feedback intervention at reducing alcohol consumption. The feedback mechanism used in the studies is described in detail and possible reasons for its efficacy are explored. In light of the cost-effective nature of this intervention, it may warrant a place in larger campus prevention programs.

Reducing alcohol use in college students: a controlled trial of two brief interventions.

Walters, Bennett & Miller, 2000
“This study tested two forms of alcohol reduction programming for college students. Thirty-seven moderate to heavy drinkers completed measures of quantity/frequency, drinking consequences, and attitude questionnaires. Participants were randomly assigned to one of three groups: 1) a two-hour information and motivation session plus mailed personal feedback on their drinking; 2) mailed feedback only; or 3) no treatment. At a 6-week Part 2 session, the feedback-only group decreased drinks per month as compared to control. No other differences were statistically significant, though decreases favored the treatment conditions about equally over control. Implications for research and treatment are discussed.”

State of the Field: Online Interventions for Mandated Youth.

Download Icon Scott Walters
This interest in new approaches [to education] is partially in response to the disappointing results of the most widely used formats for treating mandated youth. In the past, a typical intervention for underage drinkers has involved several hours of group lecture, films, and discussion. The logic for delivering treatment in this way was partially based on the success of groups in other contexts and partially based on the desire to keep referral costs low.

Early Findings From A Disciplinary Program To Reduce Problem Drinking By College Students.

Download Icon David A. Gruenewald, Joseph H. Miller, Scott T. Walters, Melanie E. Bennett
This article describes an intervention for college students cited for alcohol-related infractions of the student code of conduct. First-time offenders are required to attend a three-hour class that includes educational, attitudinal and skills-based activities. Students also complete self-report measures of quantity/frequency of consumption and are mailed personalized drinking feedback one week following the group session. A preliminary evaluation of the program is described and the intervention is discussed in relation to other programs available on campus.

Mailed Feedback Reduces Consumption Among Moderate Drinkers Who Are Employed.

Download Icon Scott T. Walters, W. Gill Woodall
Studies provide evidence that personalized motivational feedback can influence alcohol consumption across levels of severity.

Evidence-based Education

Download Icon Reid K. Hester & William R. Miller
Summary of Cumulative Evidence Scores describes and clearly identifies promising treatment interventions in the field of alcoholism treatment.