Category: Addictive Behaviors
Alcohol use among 12-20 year-olds contributes to the three leading causes of death in this age group among other problems. The need to implement effective prevention strategies was emphasized in a call to action from the Surgeon General in 2007. The Expectancy Challenge Alcohol Literacy Curriculum (ECALC) is a 45-minute group or individually-delivered program designed to change alcohol expectancy processes and reduce alcohol use. The ECALC has been administered to students in elementary schools, public and private high schools, and alternative schools. At the college level, the ECALC has been completed by undergraduate students individually and in small and large groups, and by notoriously higher risk individuals including mandated students and members of college fraternities and sororities. Exposure to the ECALC resulted in significant changes in alcohol expectancies and decreases in alcohol use among regular drinkers in each group. Reductions in alcohol use were most pronounced among mandated students and members of fraternities and sororities.
Despite the brevity and effectiveness of the ECALC, implementation in high school classes has been limited by the amount of training required for appropriate administration. We addressed this problem by creating a digital translation of ECALC materials and automating key parts of the program. The new digital ECALC was created as a web-based program with a shortened script for group administration. We added new exercises to maintain attention, increase interactivity, and sharpen students’ focus on their own alcohol expectancies. For example, an exercise was created to demonstrate the volume of liquid equivalent to a single standard drink when different types of alcoholic beverages are poured into non-standard drink containers. Also added was an interactive game to teach basic aspects of alcohol pharmacology. The digital ECALC is user-friendly and can be administered by high school teachers after a brief orientation.
During a spring semester, 180 juniors and seniors in two public high schools in Florida completed the digital ECALC. Expectancies were assessed before and after the program using the Comprehensive Effects of Alcohol Scale. Alcohol use data was collected for the 30 days before and after the ECALC using a modified timeline follow-back procedure. Analyses revealed significant changes in expectancies in predicted directions and significant reductions in mean BAC and peak BAC. Overall, results indicated that the ECALC produced expectancy changes and drinking reduction comparable to those produced by the previous non-digital version of the program. Widespread implementation of the ECALC has the potential to reduce underage alcohol use and associated harms.
Alyssa Dietz– Assistant Professor, Penn State University, York, Baltimore, Maryland
Michael Dunn– Associate Professor, University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida
Thomas Hall– Director - Behavioral Health Clinic and Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention Programming, University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida
Stacey Tantleff-Dunn– Professor, Rollins College, Winter Park, Florida
Jessica Flori– University of Central Florida
Director - Behavioral Health Clinic and Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention Programming
University of Central Florida