Recommendations for the Research Community
As the Task Force explored the role of the research community in supporting
college drinking prevention programs, the need for both new and expanded research-oriented
activities became clear. Researchers, no matter their subject specialty or interest,
are members of their college or university community and, as such, have a unique
knowledge and concern about alcohol-related problems. Specifically, researchers
need improved methods for understanding the dimensions of the alcohol problem
on campus, developing timely answers to immediate policy questions, and evaluating
the impact of prevention programs on student drinking. In the Task Force's
view, enhancing both the methods and opportunities for conducting evaluations
is a priority. Well-designed evaluations increase the likelihood of program
effectiveness, maximize the use of resources, and validate program credibility.
Evaluation results also help researchers develop the knowledge needed to inform
future policies and programs (Saltz and DeJong, 2002).
To amass the research-based information needed to improve campus-based prevention policies and programs, the Task Force recommends that the research community:
- Expand its focus on extracting information from existing research databases
and studies and produce findings that are immediately useful in understanding
- Develop specific standards and guidelines for assessing campus alcohol problems,
monitoring trends, and evaluating interventions. This should include developing
more effective screening tools for use by clinicians and researchers to facilitate
the identification of at-risk, problem, and dependent drinkers among college
- Improve existing data systems such as the Department of Transportation's
Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) and the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention's Vital Statistics Mortality files to more accurately specify,
count, and monitor college student deaths over time.
- Collaborate with universities to capitalize on the "natural" research
opportunities that emerge when schools, communities, or States institute a
major policy change that affects multiple aspects of the academic community—for
example, restricting sales of alcohol at school-sponsored events.
- Partner with individual institutions to implement short-term studies to
assess the impact of popular, commonsense strategies for changing campus-based
environmental policies and practices that have not yet been comprehensively
evaluated. The strategies in Tier 3 could be effectively studied through short
and relatively simple campus-based research efforts.
- Offer assistance to colleges and universities in using research-based evidence
to develop and improve current alcohol policies.
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Last reviewed: 9/23/2005