This project seeks to develop, implement, and assess a social norms approach to alcohol abuse prevention for the U. S. Air Force. Using both treatment and control sites this two year project will assess the effectiveness of this approach to prevention in comparison with traditional health education delivered in control sites. The project will implement surveys and intervention components locally at each intervention base as well as surveys at control site bases. The Hobart and William Smith Colleges Alcohol Education Project (HWS AE Project) will provide the internet server platform for conducting the survey research, create communications media designed to inform airmen about their peer norms, and provide other project assistance and support as needed for this project. Financial support for the HWS AE Project’s services will be provided as a SubAward to HWS from Kansas State University. This proposal is designed as a two year project beginning October 1, 2011 involving three survey time points (initial, interim, and final surveys). The initial survey provides the data for determining initial norm messages and will serve as a baseline for subsequent assessments. Base personnel will post media created by the project at each treatment base. The interim survey will serve the purpose of short term impact analyses and also as an intervention mechanism providing interactive feedback at the intervention bases. The final survey will be used to assess the overall impact of the intervention at treatment sites. At the conclusion of this project the US Air Force will possess an assessment of the effectiveness of a social norms intervention to reduce heavy alcohol use and resulting harm on its bases compared with control sites where no social norms intervention was delivered. This controlled study will provide the US Air Force with the information they need to deliver effective prevention programming to its personnel.
Hobart and William Smith Colleges have developed a proven model program that promotes positive norms, reduces harmful misperceptions, and reduces high-risk drinking and its consequences among student-athletes. Major activities include: 1) an anonymous web-based survey conducted among all student-athletes at the institution, 2) a print, poster and electronic mass-media campaign, 3) a student-athlete peer educator team to promote and communicate alcohol policies and positive healthy athlete norms, 4) training on social norms prevention strategies and actual athlete norms for athletic staff and student-peer educators, and 5) integrating local student-athlete norms into workshops for alcohol policy offenders. Outcomes between 2001 and 2003 included a 1) 45% reduction in the proportion of student-athletes misperceiving drinking more than once per week as the teammate norm, 2) 46% reduction in the proportion of student-athletes drinking more than once per week, 3) 30% reduction in the proportion of student-athletes reaching an estimated BAC of .08% or greater when drinking at parties and bars, 4) 34% reduction in the proportion of student-athletes experiencing frequent negative consequences due to drinking during the academic term, and 5) an average 2.5 hours per week increase in time spent in academic activities. The Project initiatives will be continued over the 15 month grant period and enhanced through improved multimedia production, incorporation of actual blood alcohol concentration norms into media, and enhanced program evaluation. Dissemination of this model program nationally will take place through national meeting presentations, expansion of the Project web site, making available the online survey instrument to other institutions, and publication of program results in peer reviewed publications.
Misperception of peer norms has been shown by HWS researchers as well as others to dramatically affect levels of alcohol use and harm. Moreover, student-athletes have been shown to consume more alcohol than their non-athlete peers and also misperceive their peer norms. The project directors propose a comprehensive campaign targeted at student-athletes to promote positive norms, reduce harmful misperceptions about student drinking norms, and ultimately reduce high-risk drinking among athletes on this undergraduate residential campus with the development of innovative social marketing strategies. Major activities include: 1) a print, poster and electronic mass-media campaign based on local survey data to reduce myths about athletes, 2) an orientation program for student-athletes that communicates expectations and responsibilities as well as positive norms and values of the athletic community, 3) creation of student-athlete peer educators, drawn from among athletic teams, to promote and communicate alcohol policies and positive healthy athlete norms, 4) workshops on social norms prevention strategies and actual athlete norms for athletic staff and student-peer educators, and 5) a social norms education workshop for alcohol policy offenders who are athletes. The primary objective is to produce a new and more integrated athletic, academic and social climate, where athletes and the general student body have a more realistic awareness of peer disapproval of alcohol abuse, a more responsible level of public conversation about alcohol norms, and a lower level of high risk drinking among athletes.
This project initiated a comprehensive social norms campaign to reduce harmful exaggerated misperceptions about how much drinking occurs among students, and to reduce actual alcohol abuse. The project involved the development of innovative social marketing strategies as well as new strategies for teaching about alcohol, other drugs, and violence in the academic curriculum. Major activities included: 1) a print and poster mass-media campaign based on local survey data to reduce drinking myths; 2) an interdisciplinary course on alcohol abuse; 3) an electronic multimedia campaign that brings the content of both the social norms print media and the course to computers across campus and to the world wide web (web.hws.edu/alcohol); and 4) a faculty and student-teacher training initiative for infusing alcohol and other drug information into the curriculum across academic programs and for community coalition building. Along with substantial reductions in student misperceptions of peer drinking norms, follow-up program assessments have demonstrated a 21% reduction in actual frequent heavy drinking. During this same period, students reported a 31% reduction in missed classes, a 36% reduction in property damage and a 40% reduction in unprotected sex due to drinking.
The widespread existence of exaggerated perceptions of peer alcohol and other drug norms among students across the country, coupled with the knowledge that these misperceptions contribute significantly to student alcohol and other drug abuse, makes clear the need to reduce these misperceptions wherever and however possible. Thus, the dissemination of information about the implementation of a broad repertoire of strategies to reduce these misperceptions in a variety of academic institutional contexts is a high need priority. This dissemination project will produce a publishable paper with extensive documentation explaining the strategies and positive effects of a comprehensive prevention program conducted at Hobart and William Smith Colleges over a two year period to reduce student alcohol abuse. The paper will demonstrate how a theory-based strategy correcting misperceived peer norms was designed and incorporated in curriculum infusion, electronic communications, and multimedia presentations as well as integrated in other more conventional prevention program activities. The paper will also demonstrate a thorough evaluation analysis and reveal a significant positive effect on the student body. Thus, the final product will be a comprehensive paper written to: 1) demonstrate how initiatives can be designed that redress myopic views of student drinking and drugging culture within the framework of misperceptions theory , 2) show how these initiatives can be interlinked to mutually reinforce each other, 3) provide examples of student and faculty involvement in misperception reduction campaigns along with staff, and 4) provide convincing evidence of a positive impact of this program with analyses of multiple pre-and post-test data sets.
Abstract: A comprehensive program to reduce students' and faculty's harmful misperceptions about alcohol and other drug norms on campus was developed in conjunction with the development of initiatives for teaching about drugs and violence in the academic curriculum. Activities included an information/media campaign to reduce myths based on survey data, the promotion of an interdisciplinary course for the general education program, and faculty training for curriculum infusion.
Abstract: This project provided a theoretical paper that included five related components: 1) peer socialization and normative influences on college student drug abuse, 2) the problem of misperceptions of peer norms, 3) attribution theory as it provides an explanation of how drug use misperceptions are formed, 4) approaches to drug abuse prevention based on these theoretical orientations, and 5) potential dilemmas, obstacles, and resolutions for drug abuse prevention from this perspective.
Abstract: Findings of previous research were implemented to reduce drug abuse, tailor abuse prevention strategies to various campus constituencies, and develop an effective evaluation instrument. Student leaders and staff were trained to identity patterns of abuse, correct student misperceptions of substance use on campus, and develop confrontation and referral skills for helping those with problems. Peer educators from the Colleges and area high schools were trained to offer workshops on campus and in the local community.