Objective: This study evaluated two brief personal feedback substance-use interventions for students mandated to the Rutgers University Alcohol and Other Drug Assistance Program for Students (ADAPS): (1) a brief motivational interview (BMI) intervention and (2) a written feedback-only (WF) intervention. A key question addressed by this study was whether there is a need for face-to-face feedback in the context of motivational interviewing to affect changes in substance-use behaviors or whether a written personal feedback profile is enough of an intervention to motivate students to change their substance use.
Method: The sample consisted of 222 students who were mandated to ADAPS, were eligible for the study, and completed the 3-month follow-up assessment. Eligible students completed a baseline assessment from which a personal feedback profile was created. They were then randomly assigned to the BMI or WF condition. Students were followed 3 months later.
Results: Students in both interventions reduced their alcohol consumption, prevalence of cigarette and marijuana use, and problems related to alcohol and drug use between baseline and follow-up. There were no differences between the two intervention conditions in terms of any substance-use outcomes.
Conclusions: The results suggest that, under these circumstances and with these students, assessment and WF students changed similarly to those who had an assessment and WF within the context of a BMI. Given the fact that the former is less costly in terms of time and personnel, written profiles may be found to be a cost-effective means of reducing alcohol and drug use and related problems among low- to moderate-risk mandated college students. More research is needed with mandated students to determine the efficacy of feedback interventions and to isolate the effects of interventions from the effects of being caught and being reprimanded to treatment.