What does a multivariate perspective mean?
Alcohol research clearly indicates that multiple factors interact to produce various drinking patterns. Factors include students' genetic/biological characteristics, family and cultural backgrounds and environments, previous drinking experiences in high school, and the particular environment of the college in which they are enrolled. Even within one college, patterns may be influenced by students' participation in fraternities/sororities, sports teams, or other social groups. Research now has the capacity to bring this enlarged perspective to the problem of college drinking and to test models that take into account many of these factors.
(1) Individuals, Including At-Risk or Alcohol-Dependent Drinkers: The risk for alcohol problems exists along a continuum. Targeting only those with identified problems misses students who drink heavily or misuse alcohol occasionally (e.g., drink and drive from time to time). In fact, nondependent, high-risk drinkers account for the majority of alcohol-related problems (Lemmens, 1995; Kreitman,1986).
It is crucial to support strategies that assist individual students identified as problem, at-risk, or alcohol-dependent drinkers. Strategies are clearly needed to engage these students as early as possible in appropriate screening and intervention services—whether provided on campus or through referral to specialized community-based services. One important effort to increase on-campus screening is National Alcohol Screening Day, an event that takes place in April each year. This program, supported by NIAAA and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, provides free, anonymous testing and health information at a growing number of colleges and universities.
(2) Student Body as a Whole: The key to affecting the behavior of the general student population is to address the factors that encourage high-risk drinking (DeJong and Langenbahn, 1996; DeJong and Linkenbach, 1999; DeJong and Langford, 2002; Perkins, 2002; Toomey and Wagenaar, 2002; Toomey et al., 1993).
They include the:
Specific strategies useful in addressing these problem areas tend to vary by school. Examples of some of the most promising strategies appear in the "Recommended Strategies" section.
(3) College and the Surrounding Community: Mutually reinforcing interventions between the college and surrounding community can change the broader environment and help reduce alcohol abuse and alcohol-related problems over the long term. When college drinking is reframed as a community as well as a college problem, campus and community leaders are more likely to come together to address it comprehensively. The joint activities that typically result help produce policy and enforcement reforms that, in turn, affect the total drinking environment. Campus and community alliances also improve relationships overall and enable key groups such as student affairs offices, residence life directors, local police, retail alcohol outlets, and the court system to work cooperatively in resolving issues involving students (Hingson and Howland, 2002; Holder et al., 1997a, 2000; Perry and Kelder, 1992).
Following are specific strategies that can be used within the 3-in-1 Framework to create programs addressing all three levels.
Last reviewed: 9/23/2005