Brief motivational interviews work best long term for college students sent to alcohol counseling

Students who break university rules on alcohol and drug use in residence halls are often sent to counseling or educational programs. Little is known about the long-term effectiveness of these interventions. New findings show that the effects of brief motivational interviews on drinking problems are still apparent 15 months after initiation.

Results are published in the August issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

"Here at Rutgers University, all colleges require students who have violated university rules regarding alcohol and drug use in residence halls to attend three sessions at our Alcohol and Other Drug Assistance Program for Students (ADAPS)," said Helene Raskin White, professor of sociology with a joint appointment in the Center of Alcohol Studies and the Sociology Department.

While some universities may require an alcohol-education class, others may choose to impose a large fine such as $300 which often forces students to tell their parents, and some actually contact the parents.

"The Rutgers ADAPS program was already using an in-person brief motivational interview (BMI) intervention based on the Brief Alcohol Screening Intervention for College Students model," said White, who is also the study's corresponding author. "The ADAPS clinicians asked me to evaluate their program. Given that some studies ... had found that written feedback was efficacious, we decided to use the written personal feedback condition (WF) as the comparison group for this study."

White and her colleagues tracked 348 mandated students (209 males, 139 females), randomly assigned to either in-person personal feedback intervention within the context of a BMI (n=180) or WF only (n=168), examining them at four and 15 months after the interventions. Most of the students (88%) were referred for an alcohol violation.

"Students in both groups reduced their drinking and related problems between the b


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