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Since when is binge drinking healthy? Examining the discrepancies between binge drinking and importance of health to first year fraternity and sorority pledges

Monday, November 4, 2013

Sarah Rush, BS, MA, Department of Health Sciences, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL
Christine Hackman, PhD, CHES, CSCS, Kinesiology Department, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, CA
Hannah Priest, CHES, MAED, Department of Health Science, The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL
Stuart Usdan, PhD, Department of Health Science, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL
Meg E. Sheppard, PhD, CHES, College of Graduate Health Studies, A.T. Still University, Kirksville, MO
Laura L. Talbott, PhD, CHES, Department of Human Studies, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL
M. Renée Umstattd Meyer, PhD, MCHES, Department of Health, Human Performance, & Recreation, Baylor University, Waco, TX
Background: Binge drinking is a pervasive problem among United States college students with roughly 45% of college students self-reporting binge drinking at least once every two weeks. This complex behavior has also been linked to an increased risk of negative health outcomes including death in an estimated 1,700 US college students annually. Although much research has been done to combat binge drinking in college students, rates have remained high for the past several decades. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between importance of health, perception of weight, and binge drinking behaviors with first-year fraternity and sorority pledges. Methods: We surveyed all new greek-affiliated pledges during the first month of the fall semester at a large southeastern university. Our sample consisted of 1,373 college students, 69.0% of which were female. Results: In this study, we found that 61.7% of students report binge drinking two or more times in the last two weeks. However, 83.3% of students who reported binge drinking indicated that they thought their health was important or very important. Chi-Square analyses revealed a significant relationship between importance of health and binge drinking status (Chi Square=28.3, p<.001). There was no significant association between binge status and perception of general health status. Conclusion: Findings emphasize the critical need to examine the contradictory association between student's health perception, their understanding of a healthy lifestyle, and their actual health behaviors. Colleges should include alcohol reduction messages in overall health programming.

Learning Areas:

Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Public health or related education
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Identify the prevalence of binge drinking among high-risk college students at a large Southeastern university. Discuss the relationship between binge drinking and importance of health among high-risk college students. Assess the contradiction between health perception and health behaviors among high-risk college students.

Keyword(s): Health Behavior, Binge Drinking

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been examining the literature as part of my own personal research, independent from my doctoral studies. I am very interested in college health and the health behaviors unique to the college population.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

Back to: 3416.0: Substance Abuse