Deviance Regulation Theory and Drinking Outcomes Among Greek-Life Students During Spring Break

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Alcohol use among college students increases during spring break, which often results in more alcohol-related consequences. Given the rates of heavy alcohol use among Greek-life college students, this population may be particularly at risk for experiencing negative outcomes during this time. Thus, the current study utilized a Deviance Regulation Theory (DRT)-based approach to increase the use of protective behavioral strategies (PBS) among Greek-life college students during spring break. Greek-life college students going on spring break (n = 89) completed a screening before being randomly assigned to a pre–spring break condition (i.e., either a positively or negatively framed message about peers who do or do not use PBS during spring break). Participants then completed a post–spring break assessment of alcohol and PBS use over spring break (n = 70). There were no observed DRT effects on manner of drinking or stopping/limiting PBS use during spring break. However, there were effects on Harm Reduction PBS (HR PBS). In the positive frame, HR PBS use was positively associated with PBS norm discrepancy (the difference between spring break specific PBS norms and typical PBS norms). While these associations did not result in lower alcohol consumption, HR PBS was inversely associated with risk-related alcohol problems, but not other types of alcohol problems. A brief DRT-based approach may increase specific PBS types during spring break and may reduce risk-related alcohol-related problems among Greek-life students during spring break.

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