A Brief Orientation Week Ecological Momentary Intervention to Reduce University Student Alcohol Consumption

J Stud Alcohol Drugs. 2015 Jul;76(4):525-9. doi: 10.15288/jsad.2015.76.525.


Objective: Orientation Week is a series of events at the beginning of the university year that introduces incoming students to university life. It is also the period of the academic year when students consume more alcohol than at any other time. Recently, we demonstrated that alcohol consumption during Orientation Week was related to alcohol consumption during the academic year. The aim of the present study was to determine whether a brief Ecological Momentary Intervention (EMI) implemented during Orientation Week could reduce alcohol consumption during Orientation Week and throughout the academic year.

Method: Participants were 130 freshman-year university students (72 women, 58 men) randomly assigned to either an Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA) condition or an EMA-EMI condition. In both conditions, participants reported pre-university, Orientation Week, and academic year weekend alcohol consumption. Those in the EMA-EMI condition also received EMI text messages promoting moderation every night during Orientation Week.

Results: Although the EMI did not reduce men's drinking, women in the EMA-EMI condition, compared with women in the EMA condition, consumed significantly fewer drinks during Orientation Week, M = 17.1, SD = 13.3, vs. M = 26.4, SD = 22.5, respectively, t(70) = -1.927, p < .05, Cohen's d = 0.473, and reported consuming fewer weekend drinks during the academic semester, M = 5.0, SD = 3.3, vs. M = 7.5, SD = 6.3, respectively, t(70) = -2.263, p < .05, d = 0.451.

Conclusions: This study represents the first important step in reducing drinking among university students by developing and using EMIs during Orientation Week.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / prevention & control*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pilot Projects
  • Students / statistics & numerical data*
  • Universities
  • Young Adult