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J Consult Clin Psychol. 2016 Jul;84(7):619-32. doi: 10.1037/a0040275. Epub 2016 Apr 21.

Alcohol interventions for mandated college students: A meta-analytic review.

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Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences.
Anxiety and Health Research Laboratory.
Department of Epidemiology, Mailman School of Public Health.



When college students violate campus alcohol policies, they typically receive disciplinary sanctions that include alcohol education or counseling. This meta-analysis evaluated the efficacy of these "mandated interventions" to prevent future alcohol misuse.


Studies were included if they evaluated an individual- or group-level intervention, sampled students mandated to an alcohol program, used a pretest-posttest design, and assessed alcohol use as an outcome. Thirty-one studies with 68 separate interventions (N = 8,621 participants; 35% women; 85% White) were coded by independent raters with respect to sample, design, methodological features, and intervention content; the raters also calculated weighted mean effect sizes, using random-effects models. A priori predictors were examined to explain variability in effect sizes.


In the 5 studies that used assessment-only control groups, mandated students reported significantly less drinking relative to controls (between-groups contrasts), d+ ranged from 0.13-0.20 for quantity and intoxication outcomes. In the 31 studies that provided within-group contrasts, significant effects were observed for all outcomes in the short-term (i.e., ≤ 3 months postintervention), with d+ ranging from 0.14-0.27; however, fewer significant effects appeared at longer follow-ups. Four commercially available intervention protocols (i.e., BASICS, e-CHUG, Alcohol 101, and Alcohol Skills Training Program) were associated with risk reduction.


Providing mandated interventions to students who violate campus alcohol policies is an effective short-term risk reduction strategy. Continued research is needed to maintain initial gains, identify the most useful intervention components, and determine the cost-effectiveness of delivery modes. (PsycINFO Database Record

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