An Intervention to Reduce Alcohol Consumption in Undergraduate Students Using Implementation Intentions and Mental Simulations: A Cross-National Study
Excessive alcohol consumption has been linked to deleterious health consequences among undergraduate students. There is a need to develop theory-based and cost-effective brief interventions to attenuate alcohol consumption in this population.
The present study tested the effectiveness of an integrated theory-based intervention in reducing undergraduates' alcohol consumption in excess of guideline limits in national samples from Estonia, Finland, and the UK.
A 2 (volitional: implementation intention vs. no implementation intention) × 2 (motivation: mental simulation vs. no mental simulation) × 3 (nationality: Estonia vs. Finland vs. UK) randomized-controlled design was adopted. Participants completed baseline psychological measures and self-reported number of alcohol units consumed and binge-drinking frequency followed by the intervention manipulation. One month later, participants completed follow-up measures of the psychological variables and alcohol consumption.
Results revealed main effects for implementation intention and nationality on units of alcohol consumed at follow-up and an implementation intention × nationality interaction. Alcohol consumption was significantly reduced in the implementation intention condition for the Estonian and UK samples. There was a significant main effect for nationality and an implementation intention × nationality interaction on binge-drinking frequency. Follow-up tests revealed significant reductions in binge-drinking occasions in the implementation intention group for the UK sample only.
Results support the implementation intention component of the intervention in reducing alcohol drinking in excess of guideline limits among Estonian and UK undergraduates. There was no support for the motivational intervention or the interaction between the strategies. Results are discussed with respect to intervention design based on motivational and volitional approaches.
KeywordsBinge drinking Implementation intention Mental simulations Planned behavior
- 3.Hibell B, Andersson B, Bjarnason T, Ahlström S, Balakireva O, Kokkevi A, et al. The ESPAD report 2003: alcohol and other drug use among students in 35 European countries. Stockholm, Sweden: Pompidou Group at the Council of Europe; 2004.Google Scholar
- 7.Cimini MD, Martens MP, Larimer ME, Kilmer JR, Neighbors C, Monserrat JM. Assessing the effectiveness of peer-facilitatied interventions addressing high-risk drinking among judicially mandated college students. J Stud Alcohol Drugs. 2009;16:57–66.Google Scholar
- 10.Department of Health. Safe. Sensible. Social. The next steps in the National Alcohol Strategy. London: Home Office; 2009.Google Scholar
- 11.Health Challenge Wales and National Union of Students Wales. Don't let your drinking define you. [updated 2009 October 19, 2009; cited 2009 November 1]; Available from: http://www.nus.org.uk/en/News/News/Alcohol-and-the-Student-Experience/;2009.
- 12.StudentHealth Ltd. Alcohol and drinking - current daily guidelines for sensible drinking. [updated 2005 August 1, 2005; cited 2009 September 1]; Available from: http://www.studenthealth.co.uk/advice/advice.asp?adviceID=28;2005.
- 22.Ajzen I. From intentions to actions: a theory of planned behavior. In: Kuhl J, Beckmann J, editors. Action-control: from cognition to behavior. Heidelberg: Springer; 1985. p. 11–39.Google Scholar
- 29.Chatzisarantis NLD, Hagger MS. Effects of a brief intervention based on the theory of planned behavior on leisure time physical activity participation. J Sport Exerc Psychol. 2005;27:470–87.Google Scholar
- 31.Sheeran P, Milne S, Webb TL, Gollwitzer PM. Implementation intentions and health behaviours. In: Conner M, Norman P, editors. Predicting health behaviour: research and practice with social cognition models. 2nd ed. Buckingham: Open University Press; 2005. p. 276–323.Google Scholar
- 44.Janis IL, Mann L. Decision making: a psychological analysis of conflict, choice, and commitment. New York: Free Press; 1977.Google Scholar
- 47.Ajzen I, Manstead ASR. Changing health-related behaviors: an approach based on the theory of planned behavior. In: van den Bos K, Hewstone M, de Wit J, Schut H, Stroebe M, editors. The scope of social psychology: theory and applications. New York: Psychology Press; 2007. p. 43–63.Google Scholar
- 56.Anderson P, Baumberg B. Alcohol in Europe. London: Institute of Alcohol Studies; 2006.Google Scholar
- 57.Rehn N, Room R, Edwards G. Alcohol in the European region. Copenhagen: World Health Organisation; 2001.Google Scholar
- 59.Urbaniak GC, Plous S, Lestik M. Research randomiser. [updated 2007 January 1, 1997; cited 2008 March 1]; Available from: www.randomizer.org;2007.
- 61.Drinkaware. Binge drinking: the facts. [updated 2010; cited 2010 November 1]; Available from: http://www.drinkaware.co.uk/facts/binge-drinking;2010.
- 65.Hardeman W, Michie S, Fanshawe T, Prevost T, Mcloughlin K, Kinmonth AL. Fidelity of delivery of a physical activity intervention: predictors and consequences. Psychol Health. 2007;23:11–24.Google Scholar
- 73.Litten RZ, Allen JP, editors. Measuring alcohol consumption: psychosocial and biochemical methods. Totowa: Humana Press; 1992.Google Scholar
- 74.Chatzisarantis NLD, Hagger MS. Effects of an intervention based on self-determination theory on self-reported leisure-time physical activity participation. Psychology and Health. 2009;24(1):29–48.Google Scholar