Randomized controlled trial of brief interventions to reduce college students' drinking and risky sex

Psychol Addict Behav. 2011 Dec;25(4):583-94. doi: 10.1037/a0025472. Epub 2011 Sep 19.


The present study tested the proposition that an intervention to reduce alcohol use among college students will also reduce their risky sexual behavior. In a randomized controlled trial, 154 heavy-drinking, predominantly White, heterosexual college students at behavioral risk for infection with HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases were assigned to receive no intervention or a two-session, in-person, motivational interviewing-based intervention focused on (a) reducing alcohol risk behavior, (b) reducing HIV risk behavior, or (c) reducing both alcohol and HIV risk behavior. Three-month retrospective assessments of alcohol use and sexual behavior were conducted at intake and at 3-, 6-, 9-, 12-, and 15-month follow-up appointments. During follow-up, participants who received the single-focus alcohol risk-reduction intervention drank less frequently and consumed fewer drinks per drinking day as compared with no-intervention control participants, but did not differ from control participants in their frequency of intercourse without a condom or number of sexual partners. Participants who received the single-focus HIV risk-reduction intervention evidenced fewer unprotected sex events during follow-up, as compared with control participants. The number of sexual partners reported during follow-up did not differ by condition. Effects of the interventions did not vary significantly over time and were not moderated by participant gender. Results suggest that intervening to reduce alcohol use may not reduce risky sexual behavior among nonminority college students, but that a brief motivational intervention targeting HIV risk behavior may have utility for reducing the frequency of unprotected sex in this population.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology
  • Alcohol Drinking / prevention & control*
  • Alcohol Drinking / psychology
  • Alcoholic Intoxication / prevention & control
  • Condoms / statistics & numerical data
  • Counseling / methods*
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motivation
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Pregnancy
  • Psychotherapy, Brief / methods
  • Risk Reduction Behavior
  • Risk-Taking
  • Sex Factors
  • Sexual Behavior / statistics & numerical data
  • Sexual Partners
  • Sexuality
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / epidemiology
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Students / psychology
  • Students / statistics & numerical data*
  • Unsafe Sex / prevention & control*
  • Unsafe Sex / statistics & numerical data
  • Young Adult