Category: Addictive Behaviors
Objective: Pregaming a pervasive, high-risk drinking practice among college students. Pregaming rates increase rapidly during the transition from high school to college; no interventions to date have shown efficacy in reducing this behavior. This study evaluated the efficacy of a multi-faceted, targeted intervention at reducing pregaming for first year students.
Method: Entering freshmen with drinking experience (N = 530, 47% female, 62% white, Mage=18.10) were randomly assigned within residence to create three groups: (1) social norms exposure in residence (SN; n=148), (2) SN plus a single-session, group administered brief motivational interviewing intervention (SN+G; n=117), and (3) usual care (UC; n=265). SN media consisted of posters providing pregaming-specific descriptive norms and psychoeducation (about gender differences in alcohol pharmacokinetics when pregaming and alcohol poisoning symptoms) posted in residences with restricted access. The group consisted of a 1-hour, single-gender intervention targeted to pregaming and modeled after the BASICS protocol. Overall alcohol involvement (quantity/frequency: QFI) and pregaming-specific drinking behaviors [typical drinks/pregaming event (prequant), percentage of overall events involving pregaming (events), days/month pregaming (days), and blackouts due to pregaming] were assessed at four time points: precollege and end of fall, winter, and spring quarters. Follow-up participation rates averaged 70%.
Results: Outcomes were evaluated using generalized linear modeling (GLMM: prequant, events, and days) or estimating equations (GEE; blackouts), depending on item scaling. Baseline alcohol involvement was statistically controlled using precollege QFI. Significant condition and gender-by-condition effects were found for all four outcomes (ps < .01); however, paired contrasts illuminated differences by pregaming indicator. Overall, UC females reported the greatest pregaming involvement relative to the other conditions (prequant, events, and days: ps < .05). In contrast, SN+G females reported lower scores on prequant, days, and events compared to men (in all three conditions) and UC females (ps < .05), and SN females drank less per pregaming even than their UC peers (p < .05). Comparison within males indicated lower events for the SN condition compared to UC (p < .05). However, results indicated that blackout rates were higher for students in the SN and SN+G conditions compared to UC irrespective of gender.
Conclusion: Findings indicate that a pregaming-focused social norms intervention can reduce pregaming on multiple indices. Furthermore, social norms appear to be more effective for females and when they are delivered in conjunction with a brief group intervention.