Randomized controlled trial of a Spring Break intervention to reduce high-risk drinking

J Consult Clin Psychol. 2014 Apr;82(2):189-201. doi: 10.1037/a0035743. Epub 2014 Feb 3.


Objective: Although recent studies have documented high-risk drinking occurring during Spring Break (SB), particularly on SB trips with friends, published intervention studies are few. In the present study, we evaluated the efficacy of event specific prevention strategies for reducing SB drinking among college students, compared to general prevention strategies and an assessment-only control group, as well as evaluated inclusion of peers in interventions and mode of intervention delivery (in-person vs. web).

Method: Participants included 783 undergraduates (56.1% women; average age = 20.5 years) intending to go on a SB trip with friends as well as to drink heavily on at least 1 day of SB. Participants completed assessments prior to SB and were randomized to 1 of 5 intervention conditions: SB in-person Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students (BASICS; Dimeff, Baer, Kivlahan, & Marlatt, 1999), SB web BASICS, SB in-person BASICS with friend, SB web BASICS with friend, general BASICS, or an attention control condition. Follow-up assessment was completed 1 week after SB.

Results: Although the SB web BASICS (with and without friends) and general BASICS interventions were not effective at reducing SB drinking, results indicated significant intervention effects for SB in-person BASICS in reducing SB drinking, particularly on trip days. Follow-up analyses indicated that change in descriptive norms mediated treatment effect and reductions in drinking, whereas SB drinking intentions and positive expectancies did not.

Conclusions: Overall, results suggest that an in-person SB-specific intervention is effective at reducing SB drinking, especially during trips. In contrast, interventions that contain non-SB-related content, are web-based, or seek to involve friends may be less effective at reducing SB drinking.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking / prevention & control*
  • Binge Drinking / prevention & control*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Male
  • Peer Group
  • Risk-Taking*
  • Students
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Universities
  • Young Adult