Objective: Students living in off-campus housing consume more alcohol and experience more alcohol-related consequences than those living on campus, yet prevention efforts have not targeted this high-risk group specifically. The present study evaluated the efficacy of a brief, computer-delivered, alcohol intervention (the College Drinkers Check-Up [CDCU]) in reducing alcohol use and related consequences in a sample of college students living off campus.
Method: Students who lived off campus and reported at least one heavy drinking episode (4+/5+ drinks for females/males in one occasion) in the past 30 days completed the CDCU or assessment only during the first month of the school year (n = 326; 61% female). Participants in both conditions completed follow-up assessments at 1, 3, and 6 months. We hypothesized that participants who completed the CDCU would report fewer drinks per week and heavy drinking episodes, lower peak drinking quantities, and fewer alcohol-related consequences than those in the control group.
Results: Hierarchical linear modeling was used to examine changes in drinking outcomes across groups from baseline to 1-, 3-, and 6-month follow-ups. Significant effects of time indicated less drinking and fewer consequences at each follow-up relative to baseline. Compared with those in the control group, participants who received the CDCU reported significantly fewer heavy drinking episodes at 1 month, lower peak drinking quantities at 3 months, and fewer alcohol-related consequences at 1 and 3 months. Neither sex nor baseline drinking severity moderated intervention effects.
Conclusions: The brief, online CDCU reduces heavy drinking and alcohol consequences in the short term among atrisk college students living off campus.