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Personalised Normative Feedback for Preventing Alcohol Misuse in University Students: Solomon Three-Group Randomised Controlled Trial
Published: Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Author: Maria T. Moreira et al.

by Maria T. Moreira, Reza Oskrochi, David R. Foxcroft

Background

Young people tend to over-estimate peer group drinking levels. Personalised normative feedback (PNF) aims to correct this misperception by providing information about personal drinking levels and patterns compared with norms in similar aged peer groups. PNF is intended to raise motivation for behaviour change and has been highlighted for alcohol misuse prevention by the British Government Behavioural Insight Team. The objective of the trial was to assess the effectiveness of PNF with college students for the prevention of alcohol misuse.

Methodology

Solomon three-group randomised controlled trial. 1751 students, from 22 British Universities, allocated to a PNF group, a normal control group, or a delayed measurement control group to allow assessment of any measurement effects. PNF was provided by email. Participants completed online questionnaires at baseline, 6- and 12-months (only 12-months for the delayed measurement controls). Drinking behaviour measures were (i) alcohol disorders; (ii) frequency; (iii) typical quantity, (iv) weekly consumption; (v) alcohol-related problems; (vi) perceived drinking norms; and (vii) positive alcohol expectancies. Analyses focused on high-risk drinkers, as well as all students, because of research evidence for the prevention paradox in student drinkers.

Principal Findings

Follow-up rates were low, with only 50% and 40% responding at 6- and 12-months, respectively, though comparable to similar European studies. We found no evidence for any systematic attrition bias. Overall, statistical analyses with the high risk sub-sample, and for all students, showed no significant effects of the intervention, at either time-point, in a completed case analysis and a multiple imputation analysis.

Conclusions

We found no evidence for the effectiveness of PNF for the prevention of alcohol misuse and alcohol-related problems in a UK student population.

Registration

Controlled-Trials.com ISRCTN30784467

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