5169.0: Wednesday, November 15, 2000 - 2:30 PM

Abstract #11722

Rushing toward trouble: Alcohol abuse and self-selection in the greek system

Hugh D. Spitler, PhD, MPH, Department of Public Health Sciences, Clemson University, 509 Edwards Hall, Box 340745, Clemson University, Clemson, SC 29634-0745, (864) 656-7434, hspitle@clemson.edu and Bonnie W. Stevens, EdD, Department of Parks Recreation and Tourism Management, Clemson University, 294 Lehotsky Hall, Clemson University, Clemson, SC 29634-0735.

In the summer of 1999, survey questionnaires concerning alcohol usage patterns and attitudes toward alcohol use were administered to incoming first-year students and their parents at a large public university in the Southeast. 1488 student surveys were collected (50% of the incoming first-year student population). Regression analyses indicated that the strongest predictor of an intention to join a fraternity or sorority was a positive response to the question "Have you ever gotten into trouble while drinking?" Frequency of alcohol consumption, quantity of alcohol consumed, location of consumption, parental drinking patterns and attitudes, and drinking companion patterns were strong predictors of problems with alcohol use among incoming first-year students. This study provides the basis for the development of screening programs that might be able to identify incoming "problem drinkers" before they begin their college careers. The results of this study carry serious implications for the Greek system, which may be attracting "binge" or "problem" drinkers from among the incoming first-year students. The development of successful screening and treatment programs for alcohol abuse among university students requires accurate information on the alcohol use patterns established before the students come to the university. Successful abuse reduction programs may also depend on changing the culture of campus student organizations, particularly the Greek system. The results of this study suggest that incoming students who have encountered problems with alcohol use prior to entering the university are self-selecting into environments they may perceive as supportive of continued alcohol use.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the session, participants will be able to: 1. Describe a procedure for surveying incoming first-year college students regarding alcohol attitudes and usage patterns. 2. Articulate issues of concern in the control of alcohol abuse in the Greek system on university campuses. 3. Discuss the need for the development of screening and counseling programs for incoming first-year university students to reduce alcohol abuse patterns within the Greek system on university and college campuses

Keywords: Alcohol Problems, College Students

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Organization/institution whose products or services will be discussed: None
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

The 128th Annual Meeting of APHA