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J Stud Alcohol. 2006 Jul;67(4):607-15.

A randomized study of four cards designed to prevent problems during college students' 21st birthday celebrations.

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Department of Psychology, Barnwell College, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina 29208, USA.



The purpose of this study was to examine the efficacy of sending cards designed to prevent alcohol-related problems during 21st birthday celebrations.


College students were randomly assigned to receive cards with one of the following messages: (1) a neutral birthday greeting; (2) harm reduction information; (3) messages designed by the Be Responsible About Drinking (B.R.A.D.) Foundation, including harm reduction information and a description of the tragic death of Brad McCue during his 21st birthday celebration; (4) social norming messages designed to correct misperceptions of drinking; or (5) the combination of messages from Cards 2 and 4. A total of 994 students completed a post-21st birthday phone survey. Effects were evaluated in two cohorts with 444 and 550 students, respectively.


There were no significant effects of the cards on drinking or alcohol-related problems.


These null findings, plus some unexpected trends in our data, highlight the importance of carefully evaluating mailed interventions before deploying them on a large scale.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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