Reported Alcohol and Tobacco Use and Screening Among College Women

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To describe the reports of young women in their senior college years related to alcohol and tobacco use and to describe their health screening experiences in college health centers.


A secondary analysis of data collected as part of a cross-sectional study of college women.


For the original study, women were recruited from two accredited 4-year universities in the Northeastern United States. The first was a private university, and the second was a public university; both had on-campus health centers.


The participants were 615 female undergraduate students enrolled in their senior year of college.


A Web-based survey was sent to approximately 1,200 women at each university. Women were asked about their alcohol and tobacco use and about screening experiences in college health centers. The mean response rate was 25.8%.


Nearly 90% (n = 550) of the women reported drinking alcohol in the last 3 months, and of those, more than two thirds (n = 370) met the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention definition of hazardous drinking. However, only 21.5% (n = 56) reported being screened for alcohol use. Similarly, only 19.7% (n = 52) reported being screened for tobacco use.


College health centers are ideally positioned to screen and provide interventions for young women who are at high risk for alcohol misuse and tobacco use. Despite prevalence of use and importance of screening, reported screening is low. Future research is needed to understand barriers to screening and implement recommendations for college health centers.

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