A Randomized Controlled Trial of Event Specific Prevention Strategies for Reducing Problematic Drinking Associated with 21st Birthday Celebrations


Objective: While research has documented heavy drinking practices and associated negative consequences of college students turning 21, few studies have examined prevention efforts aimed to reduce high-risk drinking during 21st birthday celebrations. The present study evaluated the comparative efficacy of a general prevention effort (i.e., BASICS) and event specific prevention in reducing 21st birthday drinking and related negative consequences. Furthermore, this study evaluated inclusion of peers in interventions and mode of intervention delivery (i.e., in-person vs. web). Method: Participants included 599 college students (46% male) who intended to consume at least five/four drinks (men/women respectively) on their 21st birthday. After completing a screening/baseline assessment approximately one week before turning 21, participants were randomly assigned to one of six conditions: 21st birthday in-person BASICS, 21st birthday web BASICS, 21st birthday in-person BASICS plus friend intervention, 21st birthday web BASICS plus friend intervention, BASICS, or an attention control. A follow-up assessment was completed approximately one week after students’ birthdays. Results: Results indicated a significant intervention effect for BASICS in reducing blood alcohol content reached and number of negative consequences experienced. All three in-person interventions reduced negative consequences experienced. Results for the web-based interventions varied by drinking outcome and whether or not a friend was included. Conclusions: Overall, results provide support for both general intervention and ESP approaches across modalities for reducing extreme drinking and negative consequences associated with turning 21. These results suggest there are several promising options for campuses seeking to reduce both use and consequences associated with 21st birthday celebrations.



Alcohol, Alcohol-related problems, College students, Event-specific drinking, Event-specific prevention, 21st birthday


Copyright 2012 Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. This is a post-print version of a published paper that is available at: http://psycnet.apa.org/record/2012-18972-001. Recommended citation: Neighbors, Clayton, Christine M. Lee, David C. Atkins, Melissa A. Lewis, Debra Kaysen, Angela Mittmann, Nicole Fossos, Irene M. Geisner, Cheng Zheng, and Mary E. Larimer. "A Randomized Controlled Trial of Event-Specific Prevention Strategies for Reducing Problematic Drinking Associated with 21st Birthday Celebrations." Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 80, no. 5 (2012): 850-862. doi: 10.1037/a0029480. This item has been deposited in accordance with publisher copyright and licensing terms and with the author’s permission.