Research & Resources

Examining the Added Value of Harm Reduction Strategies to Emailed Boosters to Extend the Effects of Online Interventions for College Drinkers

Brief computer-delivered interventions (CDIs) reduce college student drinking and related problems, but can be less effective and enduring than in-person interventions. This study examined the utility of emailed personalized boosters after an evidence-based online CDI for alcohol use (i.e., eCHECKUP TO GO) and the added value of including protective behavioral strategies (PBS) in boosters containing personalized normative feedback (PNF); i.e., feedback that corrects misperceptions regarding the prevalence of problematic behaviors. Study participants included 528 college student drinkers, ages 18–24, randomized to receive: CDI only; CDI plus a PNF-only booster; or CDI plus a booster containing both PNF and PBS feedback. Booster emails were sent 2 weeks post-CDI. The CDI led to significant reductions in alcohol consumption across all groups, whereas the boosters had no effect on alcohol consumption. No reductions in problems were observed when controlling for quantity. Normative perceptions were significantly reduced across all groups. The only difference across groups was that the CDI-only group and PNF-only booster group reported reduced PBS use at 1 month, while the PNF-plus-PBS booster group did not. The CDI sufficiently changed alcohol consumption and normative perceptions without the use of boosters, although the inclusion of boosters with PNF-plus-PBS feedback may have mitigated against reduced PBS use.

This paper, “Examining the added value of harm reduction strategies to emailed boosters to extend the effects of online interventions for college drinkers,” was funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and published in the journal Psychology of addictive behaviors.

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