Category: Addictive Behaviors
Background: Alcohol consumption and anxiety are common and co-occur among college students (Buckner et al., 2006). Anxiety Sensitivity (AS) is a mechanism underlying anxiety, and has a documented role in the relationship between anxiety and alcohol use (DeMartini & Carey, 2011; Gillihan, Farris, & Foa, 2011). Brief motivational interventions are effective for alcohol use in college students, and have also been shown to improve anxiety symptoms (Westra, Arkowitz, & Dozois, 2009) and levels of AS (Korte & Schmidt, 2013). The present study examined the impact of a brief intervention for alcohol use on anxiety symptoms among college students. Participant control was manipulated by comparing a researcher-driven condition and a consumer-driven condition. It was hypothesized that anxiety and AS would decrease across time for participants in both conditions, and would decrease more in the consumer-driven relative to the researcher-driven condition.
Methods: Twenty-five college student drinkers (60% female) were recruited and randomized to one of two conditions: Research-driven condition (an assessment and feedback session); Consumer-driven condition (an assessment and feedback session with two additional optional sessions). Participants completed the Depression Anxiety Stress Scale (DASS-21) and the Anxiety Sensitivity Index-3 (ASI-3) pre-intervention and at a two-week follow up.
Results: A mixed-model MANOVA with condition (researcher-driven vs. consumer-driven) as the between-subjects variable and time (pre-intervention vs. 2-week follow-up) as the within-subjects variable was conducted on the anxiety subscale of the DASS-21 and ASI-3 total scores. A significant multivariate effect of time emerged (Pillai’s statistic = .46, F [2, 21] = 8.53, p = .002, ηp2= .460). However, univariate tests suggest the effect was primarily to due to a decrease in ASI-3 scores, F(1, 22) = 13.67, p = .001, ηp2= .394, and not DASS-21 anxiety scores, F(1, 22) = 2.82, p = .108, ηp2= .119. Contrary to the hypothesis, there was no difference between the researcher and consumer conditions on the anxiety DASS-21 subscale or ASI-3.
Discussion: Results are consistent with previous research finding a relationship between brief motivational interventions and reduction of anxiety symptoms (Westra et al., 2009) and AS (Korte & Schmidt, 2013). In the present study, choice in the alcohol intervention did not have a significant impact on anxiety symptoms and AS. Of note, no participants in the consumer-driven condition chose to attend additional sessions. The present study contributes to the literature documenting the role of transdiagnostic interventions and mechanisms linking anxiety and alcohol use.
Brittany Kirschner– Graduate Student, Appalachian State University, Boone, North Carolina
Lisa Curtin– Professor, Appalachian State University, Boone, North Carolina
Joshua Broman-Fulks– Professor, Appalachian State University, Boone, North Carolina
Robert Hill– Professor, Appalachian State University, Boone, North Carolina