Randomized controlled trial of web-based decisional balance feedback and personalized normative feedback for college drinkers

J Stud Alcohol Drugs. 2014 Nov;75(6):982-92. doi: 10.15288/jsad.2014.75.982.


Objective: Web-based personalized feedback interventions, particularly personalized normative feedback (PNF), are efficacious in improving college drinking outcomes; however, no personalized feedback interventions to date have provided college drinkers with feedback about their own decisional balance. This study tested the relative efficacy of a novel decisional balance feedback (DBF) intervention, PNF, and an assessment-only control condition.

Method: Participants (N = 724; 56% female) were undergraduate students at a 4-year university in the U.S. Pacific Northwest and were randomized to receive one-time exposure to web-based DBF, PNF, or assessment only. Web-based assessment occurred at baseline and at 1-, 6-, and 12-month follow-ups and included measures of motivation to change, drinking quantity norms, drinking frequency/quantity, and alcohol-related problems.

Results: At the 1-month follow-up, DBF and PNF participants reported reductions in alcohol-related problems; however, only PNF participants reduced their drinking frequency and quantity. At the 6-month follow-up, only DBF participants showed significant reductions in drinking quantity and alcohol-related problems. Neither group maintained reductions in alcohol use or alcohol-related problems at the 12-month follow-up.

Conclusions: This study provided preliminary evidence that web-based DBF and PNF are efficacious interventions for college drinkers, with DBF having somewhat longer lasting effects.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking / therapy*
  • Feedback, Psychological*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Male
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Students / psychology*
  • Therapy, Computer-Assisted*
  • Universities*
  • Young Adult