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Effects of AlcoholEdu for College on Alcohol-Related Problems Among Freshmen: A Randomized Multicampus Trial

Mallie J. Paschall, Tamar Antin, Christopher L. Ringwalt, Robert F. Saltz

Objective: AlcoholEdu for College is a 2- to 3-hour online course for incoming college freshmen. This study was the first multicampus trial to examine effects of AlcoholEdu for College on alcohol-related problems among freshmen. Method: Thirty universities participated in the study. Fifteen were randomly assigned to receive AlcoholEdu, and the other 15 were assigned to the control condition. AlcoholEdu was implemented by intervention schools during the summer and/or fall semester. Cross-sectional surveys of freshmen were conducted at each university beginning before the intervention in spring 2008/2009; post-intervention surveys were administered in fall 2008/2009 and spring 2009/2010. The surveys included questions about the past-30-day frequency of 28 alcohol-related problems, from which we created indices for the total number of problems and problems in seven domains: physiological, academic, social, driving under the influence/ riding with drinking drivers, aggression, sexual risk taking, and victimization. Multilevel Poisson regression analyses were conducted to examine intent-to-treat and dosage effects of AlcoholEdu for College on these outcomes. Results: Multilevel intent-to-treat analyses indicated significant reductions in the risk for past-30-day alcohol problems in general and problems in the physiological, social, and victimization domains during the fall semester immediately after completion of the course. However, these effects did not persist in the spring semester. Additional analyses suggested stronger AlcoholEdu effects on these outcomes at colleges with higher rates of student course completion. No AlcoholEdu effects were observed for alcohol-related problems in the other four domains. Conclusions: AlcoholEdu for College appears to have beneficial short-term effects on victimization and the most common types of alcohol-related problems among freshmen. Universities may benefit the most by mandating AlcoholEdu for College for all incoming freshmen and by implementing this online course along with environmental prevention strategies. (J. Stud. Alcohol Drugs, 72, 642650, 2011)