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Environmental Policies to Reduce College Drinking: An Update of Research Findings

Traci L. Toomey, Kathleen M. Lenk, Alexander C. Wagenaar

Objective: We provide an overview of environmental strategies that may reduce college drinking. The identified environmental strategies fall into three categories: (1) reducing alcohol use and related problems among underage college students, (2) reducing risky alcohol use and related problems among all college students, and (3) de-emphasizing the role of alcohol and creating positive expectations on campus. At the time of our 2002 review, few studies had assessed environmental policies and strategies in the context of college student alcohol use and related problems. The present article summarizes recent research on the effects of environmental policies and strategies affecting college students. Method: We updated our previous literature searches to identify peer-reviewed research studies evaluating the effects of environmental strategies on college and general populations. Results: We identified 110 new studies addressing environmental strategies published between 1999 and 2006. Thirty-six of these studies focused on the college population. The extant research indicates that many environmental strategies are promising for reducing alcohol-related problems among the general population. Several recent studies suggest that these strategies, particularly combined strategies, also may be effective in decreasing alcohol-related problems among college populations. Conclusions: Further research is needed to continue expanding our understanding of environmental strategies to identify the most effective individual and combined strategies. (J. Stud. Alcohol Drugs 68: 208-219, 2007)