Transitions in first-year college student drinking behaviors: does pre-college drinking moderate the effects of parent- and peer-based intervention components?

Psychol Addict Behav. 2012 Sep;26(3):440-50. doi: 10.1037/a0026130. Epub 2011 Nov 7.


This study used Latent Transition Analysis (LTA) to examine a stage-sequential model of alcohol use among a sample of high-risk matriculating college students (N=1,275). Measures of alcohol use were collected via web-administered surveys during the summer before entering college and followed-up during the fall semester of college. Seven indicators of alcohol use were used in the LTA models, including temporal measures of typical drinking throughout the week. The results indicated that four latent statuses characterized patterns of drinking at both times, though the proportion of students in each status changed during the transition to college: (a) nondrinkers; (b) weekend nonbingers; (c) weekend bingers; and (d) heavy drinkers. Heavy drinkers were distinguished by heavy episodic drinking (HED), and increased likelihood of drinking throughout the week, especially on Thursdays. Covariates were added to the LTA model to examine the main and interaction effects of parent- and peer-based intervention components. Results indicated that participants in the parent and peer conditions were least likely to transition to the heavy drinkers status. Results also indicated that the parent condition was most effective at preventing baseline nondrinkers from transitioning to heavy drinkers whereas the peer condition was most effective at preventing escalation of use among weekend nonbingers. The results underscore the value of considering multiple dimensions of alcohol use within a person-centered approach. Differential treatment effects were found across baseline drinking class, suggesting the benefit for tailored intervention programs to reduce high-risk drinking among college students.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology
  • Alcohol Drinking / prevention & control*
  • Alcohol Drinking / psychology*
  • Alcoholism / epidemiology
  • Alcoholism / prevention & control*
  • Alcoholism / psychology*
  • Binge Drinking / epidemiology
  • Binge Drinking / prevention & control*
  • Binge Drinking / psychology*
  • Communication*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Culture
  • Ethanol / blood
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motivational Interviewing*
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Parenting / psychology*
  • Peer Group*
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Facilitation
  • Sports / psychology
  • Students / psychology*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult


  • Ethanol