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College Drinking Prevention - Changing the Culture

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U18 Grantees

College Research Partnership Awards for Rapid Response to College Problems

University of Michigan

  • PI -- Sean McCabe, M.S.W, Ph.D
           plius@umich.edu
           734-998-6500
  • Title of Project: Protective Influence of Residential Learning Communities
  • U01 Researcher Collaborator: James Lange, Ph.D.
  • NIAAA Scientific Staff Collaborator: Marcia Scott, Ph.D


  • Summary:
    Alcohol-related problems represent the most significant public health concern on American college campuses (Hingson et al., 2002; 2005). Collegiate living arrangements represent a microcosm of the collegiate experience and act as one of the ways in which the culture of the campus influences the individual student. Previous research has found that particular collegiate living arrangements, despite the overall campus norms on drinking, may either encourage or discourage alcohol misuse (e.g. Bachman et al., 1997; Cashin et al., 1998; Wechsler et al., 2001). Although some of these living arrangements were not designed to reduce alcohol misuse, there is preliminary evidence that suggests other living arrangements, such as residential learning communities (RLCs), can produce an unintended secondary effect on drinking behavior (Brower et al., 2003; McCabe, 2002).

    Despite the potential of RLCs to address the high prevalence of alcohol misuse on college campuses, no previous studies have addressed the self-selection bias, making findings on the effects of RLCs on alcohol misuse inconclusive. Thus, the primary objective of the proposed study is to address the self-selection limitation with an appropriate longitudinal research design and the inclusion of potential mediators to address the question as to why these planned living arrangements may influence drinking behaviors. The study will examine whether shaping the social context and academic environment of students can counteract the prevalent culture on campuses that encourages drinking. Finally, the study will seek to identify a cost effective, feasible intervention strategy for colleges and universities to address heavy drinking on campuses.

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Last reviewed: 11/23/2005


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