Objective: Despite the increasing need to identify and implement effective interventions to reduce drinking with mandated college students, peer-led brief alcohol interventions have received minimal research attention. The current pilot study tested whether enhanced supervision (evidence-based application approach [EAA; group plus individual]) would improve peer counseling skills beyond those acquired by a common practice approach (CPA; group only).
Method: Following initial peer counselor skill evaluation, drinking outcomes after intervention were compared between supervision groups with a mandated college student sample (N = 82; 65 men). The relationship between acquired motivational interviewing skills and subsequent drinking behaviors was also assessed.
Results: EAA peer counselors showed higher motivational interviewing skill acquisition than CPA peer counselors. Despite differences in counselor skill demonstration, mandated clients in both intervention groups significantly reduced drinking behaviors. Further, higher reflection-to-question ratio and motivational interviewing spirit demonstrated by peer counselors were significantly related to poorer follow-up drinking outcomes.
Conclusions: Findings identify supervision practices that may result in optimal peer counselor learning and brief intervention implementation while also offering initial data about the way in which peer counseling session implementation may relate to drinking outcomes. Future research is needed to identify the within-session processes of peer-led interventions that predict drinking outcomes, which may offer additional direction for training approaches.