Long-term effects of a personality-targeted intervention to reduce alcohol use in adolescents

J Consult Clin Psychol. 2011 Jun;79(3):296-306. doi: 10.1037/a0022997.


Objective: To examine the long-term effects of a personality-targeted intervention on drinking quantity and frequency (QF), problem drinking, and personality-specific motivations for alcohol use in early adolescence.

Method: A randomized control trial was carried out with 364 adolescents (median age 14) recruited from 13 secondary schools with elevated scores in Hopelessness, Anxiety-Sensitivity (AS), Impulsivity, and Sensation-Seeking. Participants were randomly assigned to a control no-intervention condition or a 2-session group coping skills intervention targeting 1 of 4 personality risk factors. The effects of the intervention on quantity/frequency (QF) of alcohol use, frequency of binge drinking, problem drinking, and motives were examined at 6, 12, 18, and 24 months postintervention.

Results: Intent-to-treat repeated measures analyses revealed a significant overall intervention effect in reducing problem drinking symptoms, and a Time × Intervention effect on drinking QF and binge drinking frequency. Relative to the control group, the intervention group showed significantly reduced drinking and binge drinking levels at 6 months postintervention and reduced problem drinking symptoms for the full 24-month follow-up period (Cohen's d = 0.33). A significant Time × Intervention × Personality interaction was demonstrated for coping and enhancement drinking motives. In addition to an overall effect of intervention on coping motives, the AS group who received that intervention reported fewer coping motives compared with the AS control group at 12 and 24 months postintervention.

Conclusions: This study provides further evidence showing that personality-targeted interventions reduce drinking behavior in adolescents in the short term. Novel findings were that the interventions were shown to produced long-term effects on drinking problems and personality-specific effects on drinking motives.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Alcohol Drinking / prevention & control*
  • Alcohol Drinking / psychology
  • Alcoholism / prevention & control*
  • Alcoholism / psychology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motivation
  • Personality*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Treatment Outcome