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Social problems and adverse consequences have been associated with risky alcohol use (Paschall et al, 2015). Personalized Normative Feedback (PNF) has been utilized to address these problems (White and Hingson, 2014) by comparing students’ alcohol use to campus or national norms (Butler et al, 2009). The current investigation sought to understand differences in alcohol use behaviors in freshmen who did and did not report completion of a personalized feedback intervention (PFI) in a diverse sample of college students from the Spit for Science (S4S) project. S4S is a campus-wide, longitudinal study on the genetic and environmental factors that contribute to mental health and substance use outcomes in college students. Freshmen (N=1,168) completed surveys in the fall and spring; in the spring, whether or not students completed a PFI during their freshman year was assessed. Alcohol use disorder (AUD) symptoms and grams of ethanol consumed were calculated for participants who reported completing an online PFI for alcohol use (n=365) and for those who did not (n=803). We hypothesized that (1) PFI freshmen would exhibit greater alcohol consumption and AUD symptoms in the fall (pre-PFI), and (2) students in both groups would exhibit equal rates in the spring (post-PFI). There was sufficient evidence to support the fall hypothesis: students in the prevention group exhibited higher levels of alcohol consumption (t=1.39, p<0.001) and AUD symptoms (t=2.42, p=0.031). The spring hypothesis was not supported: PFI students exhibited higher levels of alcohol consumption (t)=1.4373, p<0.01) and AUD symptoms (t=2.09, p < 0.01). Future research could examine whether the results may vary by ethnicity or other demographic characteristics.

Publication Date


Subject Major(s)

Department of Biology, Department of Anthropology, Department of Psychology, College Behavioral and Emotional Health Institute


spit for science, college students, alcohol use, alcohol use disorder, personalized normative feedback intervention, alcohol, consumption, AUD, ethanol consumption


Genetics and Genomics | Psychology

Current Academic Year


Faculty Advisor/Mentor

Amy Adkins, PhD

Faculty Advisor/Mentor

Zoe Neale, MS


© The Author(s)

Recommended Citation

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College Student Alcohol Use and Engagement in Prevention Programming