An Application of Deviance Regulation Theory to Reduce Alcohol-Related Problems Among College Women During Spring Break

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Spring break (SB) can lead to heavy episodic drinking and increased alcohol-related risks. This may be especially relevant for women. The current study utilized deviance regulation theory to increase the use of protective behavioral strategies (PBSs) among female college students on SB. Female college students going on SB (n = 62) completed a screening, a pre-SB intervention (where they were randomly assigned to receive either a positively or negatively framed message about individuals who do or do not use PBS), and a post-SB assessment that provided alcohol and PBS use data for each day of SB (n = 620 person-days). Data were analyzed using a multilevel structural equation model. In the negative frame, SB PBS use was higher among those who perceived SB PBS norms to be more common on SB relative to non-SB. In the positive frame, SB PBS use was higher among those who perceived SB PBS norms to be less common on SB relative to non-SB. These associations did not result in lower alcohol consumption, but did result in a lower likelihood of experiencing alcohol-related problems during SB. These results suggest that a brief online intervention, that utilizes targeted messages based on normative perceptions of SB PBS use, could be an effective strategy for reducing alcohol-related consequences among college student women during SB.

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