Effects of choice on intervention outcomes for college students sanctioned for campus alcohol policy violations

Psychol Addict Behav. 2013 Sep;27(3):596-603. doi: 10.1037/a0030333. Epub 2012 Oct 8.


This study tested the hypothesis that client choice influences intervention outcomes. We recruited 288 student drinkers (60% men, 67% freshmen) required to participate in an intervention due to a violation of campus alcohol policy. Participants were randomized either to self-chosen or researcher-assigned interventions. In the choice condition they selected either a brief motivational intervention (BMI) or a computer-delivered educational program. In the assigned condition they received 1 of the 2 interventions, assigned randomly. Follow-up assessments at 1 and 2 months revealed that choice was associated with higher intervention satisfaction. However, the assigned and choice conditions did not differentially change on consumption or consequences across intervention type. Overall, change scores favored the BMI over the computer-delivered intervention on consumption and consequences. Exploratory analyses revealed that given the choice of intervention, heavier-drinking students self-selected into the face-to-face BMI. Furthermore, among the students who received a BMI, the students who chose it (despite their heavier drinking) reduced drinks per drinking day more than did the assigned students. In summary, offering a choice of intervention to students mandated for campus alcohol violations increased the chance that at-risk students will select a more intensive and effective intervention.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Alcohol Drinking / therapy*
  • Alcoholic Intoxication
  • Computer-Assisted Instruction*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mandatory Programs*
  • Motivational Interviewing*
  • Patient Education as Topic*
  • Patient Preference*
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Personal Autonomy
  • Students*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Universities*
  • Young Adult