Randomized controlled trial of computerized alcohol intervention for college students: role of class level

Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse. 2016;42(1):15-24. doi: 10.3109/00952990.2015.1105241. Epub 2015 Dec 18.


Background: Because of their ability to reach a much wider audience than face-to-face counseling or psychoeducation, computer-delivered interventions for risky or potentially problematic use have been increasing on college campuses. However, there are very few studies that examine who benefits most from such interventions.

Objectives: The purpose of this study was to determine if participation in Alcohol-Wise, a computerized intervention, is associated with changes in alcohol drinking behavior and its consequences, perceptions of college drinking norms, and expectancies. It was hypothesized that class level (i.e. freshman/sophomore versus junior/senior) would moderate the effectiveness of Alcohol-Wise.

Method: College students (n = 58) were randomly assigned to one of two conditions: (i) the computer-delivered intervention or (ii) wait-list control. Measures were completed at baseline and approximately 30-days later.

Results: At follow-up, freshman and sophomore students in the intervention group showed significant reduction in peak number of standard drinks and blood alcohol concentration, but the effect was not observed for juniors and seniors. The intervention group reported more accurate estimates of drinking norms at follow-up relative to controls. There were no significant changes over time in alcohol expectancies in either group.

Conclusion: This study provides support for the potential usefulness of Alcohol-Wise intervention at reducing short-term drinking among underclassmen but not upperclassmen in a 4-year college setting. These findings suggest that computerized interventions may be more effective when provided early, but not later, in a student's college career.

Keywords: Computer delivered intervention; alcohol abuse treatment; alcohol use; college drinking; randomized controlled trial.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Alcohol Drinking in College / psychology*
  • Counseling / methods*
  • Ethanol / blood
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Internet*
  • Male
  • Social Norms
  • Students / statistics & numerical data*
  • Therapy, Computer-Assisted
  • Young Adult


  • Ethanol