Using personalized feedback to reduce alcohol use among hazardous drinking college students: the moderating effect of alcohol-related negative consequences

Addict Behav. 2011 May;36(5):539-42. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2011.01.005. Epub 2011 Jan 20.


Web-based screening and brief interventions that include personalized feedback about their alcohol use have proven to be particularly promising for reducing hazardous drinking among university students. Despite the increasing use of these approaches, there is still relatively little known about how the content of these interventions may influence outcomes and who may benefit most from these approaches. The current study sought to address these issues by examining how individual differences in alcohol consequences influence outcomes of a laboratory-based computerized intervention.

Methods: One-hundred and nineteen introductory psychology students who either had two episodes of heavy episodic drinking in the past month or scored ≥8 on the AUDIT participated in this randomized controlled trial for course credit. Participants were assigned to 1 of 4 conditions in this 2 Intervention (Alcohol Feedback vs. Control)×2 Assessment (Motivational Assessment vs. No Motivational Assessment) between-subjects design. Quantity of alcohol consumed per week and heavy episodic drinking one month later were the primary dependent variables.

Results: Controlling for corresponding baseline alcohol measures, hierarchical linear regression analyses showed a significant interaction between intervention condition and baseline alcohol-related consequences. For those who reported more alcohol consequences at baseline, the alcohol intervention resulted in significantly less alcohol use and fewer heavy drinking episodes at follow-up, while no difference was observed between intervention conditions for those with few baseline consequences. Assessment did not moderate intervention effects.

Discussion: These findings suggest that a feedback-based computerized intervention that includes normative information about alcohol use and consequences may be more effective for hazardous drinking students who are experiencing higher levels of alcohol-related consequences.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Alcohol Drinking / prevention & control*
  • Alcohol Drinking / psychology
  • Feedback, Psychological*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internet*
  • Male
  • Risk-Taking*
  • Students / psychology*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Universities