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Brief Alcohol Intervention with College Students using BASICS: Face-to-Face versus Computerized Feedback




Butler, Leon

Type of Degree





Research suggests that brief motivational models of intervention for alcohol use among college students are effective in decreasing risky drinking (Baer, Marlatt, Kivlhan, Fromme, Larimer, & Williams, 1992; Emrick 1975). Specifically the Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention of College students (BASICS, Dimeff, Baer, Kivlahan, & Marlatt, 1999) has been shown effective for college populations (Borsari & Carey, 2000; Carey et al., 2006; Murphy et al., 2001). Typically, brief alcohol interventions are delivered in a face-to-face session with a trained clinician. However, researchers have now discovered that such brief interventions may not need to be delivered in a face-to-face session to be effective (Agostinelli et al., 1995; Cunningham et al., 2001; Henslee et al., 2006; Walters, 2000; Collins et al., 2002; Murphy et al., 2004; Kypri, et al., 2003; Neighbors et al., 2004; Neighbors et al., 2006; Walters, et al., 2005). Methodology is generally to gather individual drinking information and then to create a personalized feedback and deliver it via mail, computer, or pamphlet. However, no research to date has compared the relative effectiveness of computerized delivery of feedback with a face-to-face delivery and a non-treatment control. In this study, we used a three-group design to determine the effectiveness of two delivery methods. We screened 300 college students from undergraduate psychology and statistics courses. We randomly assigned participants who qualified (reported at least 2 binge drinking episodes and 2 or more alcohol related problems in the last 28 days) and followed through (N = 84) to either a face-to-face feedback group, a computer delivered feedback group, or a non-treatment control group. Each of the intervention groups received personalized feedback, following the BASICS model, either from a trained graduate clinician or via computer in the form of a PowerPoint presentation. All participants then completed a 4-week follow-up session where they again filled out measures to assess their alcohol use over the past 28 days. The results of the current study suggest that brief alcohol interventions are effective in reducing alcohol use, particularly binge drinking and alcohol-related problems. The computerized group was as effective as the face-to-face group in reducing these behaviors. Additionally, both the face-to-face and the computerized feedback groups showed decrease relative to the control group in terms of drinking quantity, frequency, and binge drinking. Participants also viewed the computerized intervention as acceptable as the face-to-face intervention.