154461 Variability in drinking patterns among college-aged youth

Monday, November 5, 2007: 4:35 PM

Frances K. Del Boca, PhD , Department of Community Medicine and Health Care, University of Connecticut Health Center, Chicago, IL
Objective: Most research on college student drinking has examined only broad trends in consumption using survey methodology; consequently, little is known about the temporal fluctuations in use that may inform development of effective prevention and intervention programs. Method: To chart the temporal variability in alcohol use in this age group and to identify specific occasions on which excessive drinking occurs, monthly retrospective TimeLine Followback interviews have been conducted in three different longitudinal investigations involving samples of college freshmen, advanced undergraduate students, and age-matched, non-college peers recruited over a decade of research. Results: Although considerable variability in consumption has been observed across time and across respondents, consistent patterns have also emerged. For example, alcohol use in our college samples varied with the demands of the academic calendar: Drinking consistently escalated on Thursdays (many students avoid Friday classes) and on weekends, and consumption tended to rise during the early weeks of each semester and decline during exam periods. Heavier drinking also occurred during holiday periods, with high levels of use often observed when students were typically away from campus (e.g., Spring Break). A variety of individual difference (e.g., gender, alcohol expectancies) and environmental (e.g., residence) have been found to predict heavy drinking during high risk periods. Conclusions: Together with findings regarding individual risk factors, the consistent temporal variability in drinking evidenced in this age group has significant implications both for the conduct of research on college-aged drinkers and for the development of prevention/intervention programs.

Learning Objectives:
Describe the variability in the drinking patterns of college-aged youth Identify risk factors associated with excessive college drinking Discuss methodological and policy implications of variability in college drinking

Keywords: Alcohol Use, College Students

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Any relevant financial relationships? No
Any institutionally-contracted trials related to this submission?

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