Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

College Students Might Drink Less If They Knew Peers' True Habits

Date:
July 13, 2009
Source:
Center for Advancing Health
Summary:
Blame it on peer pressure. When college students think that other undergrads drink a lot of alcohol, they drink more themselves. However, a new systematic review suggests that when college students learn they are mistaken about the actual normal drinking habits of their peers, they sometimes imbibe less often.

Blame it on peer pressure. When college students think that other undergrads drink a lot of alcohol, they drink more themselves. However, a new systematic review suggests that when college students learn they are mistaken about the actual normal drinking habits of their peers, they sometimes imbibe less often.

The reviewers evaluated 22 studies that involved 7,275 university and college students. All studies but one took place in the United States.

The review appears in the current issue of The Cochrane Library, a publication of The Cochrane Collaboration, an international organization that evaluates research in all aspects of health care. Systematic reviews draw evidence-based conclusions about medical practice after considering both the content and quality of existing trials on a topic.

In the European Union, where the review authors are based, alcohol is a serious problem. “In the UK, young people are drinking earlier and heavier than ever before,” said co-author David Foxcroft of Oxford Brookes University, in England. “Levels of alcohol consumption amongst 11- to 13 year-olds have almost doubled in the last 10 years or so.”

Not too surprisingly, the reviewers reported that university students have a tendency to drink excessively. They looked at how social norms — our beliefs about what is “normal” behavior in the people close to us — might influence students’ drinking. If a student believes that his or her peers drink heavily, it will likely influence the amount of alcohol the student personally drinks, the Cochrane reviewers say.

However, they say that much of peer influence is the result of incorrect perceptions.

Researchers in the 22 studies placed students into either intervention or control groups. Those in the intervention groups received personalized feedback about actual college students’ normal drinking habits, their own personal drinking profiles — quantity of alcohol consumed, calorie intake and money spent on alcohol — as well as the health risk factors involved in heavy drinking.

The interventions occurred in different ways: alone, either by mail or via the Web; or together with individual face-to-face or group counseling.

Interventions that occurred electronically reduced the students’ alcohol-related problems, drinking frequency, peak blood-alcohol content and drinking quantity.

For example, in three studies using Web feedback, 62 percent of the students reported a reduction in alcohol-related problems and a reduction of 1.2 points in the Rutgers Alcohol Problem Index, a 23-item questionnaire geared to adolescents, the reviewers found.

In addition, with Web feedback, 65 percent of the students reported that they were drinking less frequently. Most results were from three-month follow-ups.

Individual face-to-face feedback also led to students drinking less often, with two studies (217 participants) showing that 63 percent of students reported a reduction in their frequency of drinking.

Mailed and group feedback did not show any changes in drinking habits.

The reviewers say that Web feedback and individual face-to-face feedback were “probably effective” in reducing alcohol misuse.

“There were only a small number of good quality studies that we could draw on to make this somewhat tentative conclusion,” said Foxcroft. “More research is definitely needed, especially in different settings. We don’t know, for example, how well Web feedback would work in the UK, where the drinking context and culture is quite different.”

Jeanie Alter, program manager and lead evaluator of the Indiana Prevention Resource Center at Indiana University’s School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, said that she, for one, thought the results for the group feedback would be more significant.

“I am a bit surprised by these findings simply because by providing normative information to a group, I would have expected that it would provide a level of social support for refusal,” said Alter. “A similarly minded group usually would back you up in your decision not to use.”

Reference: Moreira MT, Smith LA, Foxcroft D. Social norms interventions to reduce alcohol misuse in university or college students. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2009, Issue 3.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Center for Advancing Health. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Center for Advancing Health. "College Students Might Drink Less If They Knew Peers' True Habits." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 July 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090709205421.htm>.
Center for Advancing Health. (2009, July 13). College Students Might Drink Less If They Knew Peers' True Habits. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090709205421.htm
Center for Advancing Health. "College Students Might Drink Less If They Knew Peers' True Habits." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090709205421.htm (accessed April 20, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Study On Artists' Brain Shows They're 'Structurally Unique'

Study On Artists' Brain Shows They're 'Structurally Unique'

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) The brains of artists aren't really left-brain or right-brain, but rather have extra neural matter in visual and motor control areas. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) A recent study links apathetic feelings to a smaller brain. Researchers say the results indicate a need for apathy screening for at-risk seniors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?

Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?

AP (Apr. 16, 2014) Pushing the limits on style and self-expression is a rite of passage for teens and even younger kids. How far should schools go with their dress codes? The courts have sided with schools in an era when school safety is paramount. (April 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins