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J Stud Alcohol Drugs Suppl. 2009 Jul;(16):67-76.

A randomized trial of a parent-based intervention on drinking behavior among incoming college freshmen.

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Department of Psychology, University of San Diego, San Diego, CA 92110-2492, USA.



Despite research suggesting that parental involvement can affect alcohol involvement among adolescents, few studies have focused on parent-based alcohol prevention strategies among college undergraduates. We report the results of a randomized trial of a parent-based intervention (PBI) in a sample of college freshmen.


Across two cohorts, 724 incoming freshman-parent dyads completed baseline assessments and were randomly assigned to PBI or intervention as usual (an alcohol fact sheet for parents). Student follow-up assessments were completed at 4 and 8 months.


Two-part latent growth curve modeling was used to test hypothesized intervention effects. Outcome variables were drinks per week (past month), heavy episodic drinking (past 2 weeks), and alcohol-related problems (past 3 months). Over the 8-month follow-up period, PBI had a significant effect on drinks per week but not heavy episodic drinking or alcohol-related problems. Specifically, compared with students in the intervention-as-usual condition, students receiving the PBI were significantly less likely to transition from nondrinker to drinker status and showed less growth in drinking over the freshman year. However, the direct PBI effect on growth was qualified by a PBI x Gender interaction, with probes indicating that the effect applied to women but not men in the PBI condition.


This study extends previous research by demonstrating the potential utility for PBIs to decrease the likelihood of transitioning into drinker status and, at least for women, for slowing growth in drinking over the freshman year.

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