Objective: The aim of this study was to evaluate a brief motivational intervention (BMI) for reducing risky alcohol use and alcohol-related problems among mandated (M) and voluntary (V) student drinkers to determine (a) whether BMI-mandated students report greater decreases in alcohol use and related problems, relative to no treatment; (b) whether a BMI is comparably effective for mandated and voluntary students; and (c) whether a mandated control group shows greater changes in alcohol use and related problems relative to a voluntary control group.
Method: Participants were undergraduate student research volunteers (62% male) who met heavy drinking criteria and completed measures of alcohol use and alcohol problems at baseline and 4 weeks after intervention. Participants (N = 84) were randomly assigned to treatment (T) or assessment-only control (C) conditions (mandated students were assigned to a brief wait list).
Results: Participants assigned to treatment reported consuming fewer drinks after the intervention (MT: M = 14.11 drinks; VT: M = 14.05) relative to control groups (MC: M = 20.71; VC: M = 16.53). Evaluation of alcohol-related problems indicated a significant effect of referral status, such that mandated students reported significantly fewer problems at the follow-up assessment relative to volunteers.
Conclusions: BMIs are comparably effective for mandated and voluntary students and may result in larger reductions in alcohol use than disciplinary attention alone. More longitudinal research is needed to evaluate the long-term impact of a BMI among mandated students.