Incorporating Religiousness into a Brief Alcohol Intervention



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Brief interventions for alcohol are generally effective and have included a variety of components. Religiousness has been consistently identified as a protective factor for problematic drinking. Religiousness is often central in long-term alcohol interventions, including twelve-step programs and formal counseling. However, it has yet to be integrated into an empirically-supported brief alcohol intervention. Many effective brief interventions use motivational interviewing to evoke change talk and encourage behavioral change. This study tested the efficacy of a brief alcohol intervention for college students that integrated religiousness, motivational interviewing, and cognitive dissonance principles to encourage behavior change at a one-month follow-up. Participants (N=203) were asked to write for five to ten minutes about how their current drinking behaviors fit their understanding of their religious affiliation. They were then emailed a follow-up one month after completion of baseline to determine changes in drinking behaviors. Results indicated that the intervention effectively evoked more discrepancy for those lower in religiousness relative to those higher in religiousness (d=-0.292) and with lower levels of alcohol use relative to those with higher levels of alcohol use (d=-0.286), but discrepancy did not predict follow-up drinking, for those high in religiousness, with high levels of alcohol use, or with both. These findings indicate that while the intervention did not effectively change drinking behaviors at follow-up, it may provide a starting point for developing future religiousness-based brief alcohol interventions.



religiousness, alcohol intervention, college students, brief interventions