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Alcohol policy enforcement and changes in student drinking rates in a statewide public college system: a follow-up study.

Abstract

BACKGROUND

Heavy alcohol use among U.S. college students is a major contributor to young adult morbidity and mortality. The aim of this study was to examine whether college alcohol policy enforcement levels predict changes in student drinking and related behaviors in a state system of public colleges and universities, following a system-wide change to a stricter policy.

METHODS

Students and administrators at 11 Massachusetts public colleges/universities completed surveys in 1999 (N of students = 1252), one year after the policy change, and again in 2001 (N = 1074). We calculated policy enforcement scores for each school based on the reports of deans of students, campus security chiefs, and students, and examined the correlations between perceived enforcement levels and the change in student drinking rates over the subsequent two year period, after weighting the 2001 data to adjust for demographic changes in the student body.

RESULTS

Overall rates of any past-30-days drinking, heavy episodic drinking, and usual heavy drinking among past-30-days drinkers were all lower in 2001 compared to 1999. School-level analyses (N = 11) found deans' baseline reports of stricter enforcement were strongly correlated with subsequent declines in heavy episodic drinking (Pearson's r = -0.73, p = 0.011). Moreover, consistently high enforcement levels across time, as reported by deans, were associated with greater declines in heavy episodic drinking. Such relationships were not found for students' and security chiefs' reports of enforcement. Marijuana use did not rise during this period of decline in heavy drinking.

CONCLUSIONS

Study findings suggest that stronger enforcement of a stricter alcohol policy may be associated with reductions in student heavy drinking rates over time. An aggressive enforcement stance by deans may be an important element of an effective college alcohol policy.

Authors+Show Affiliations

Center for Adolescent Substance Abuse Research, Children's Hospital Boston, 300 Longwood Ave., Boston, MA 02115, USA. sion.harris@childrens.harvard.eduNo affiliation info availableNo affiliation info availableNo affiliation info availableNo affiliation info available

Pub Type(s)

Journal Article
Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

Language

eng

PubMed ID

20684777

Citation

Harris, Sion K., et al. "Alcohol Policy Enforcement and Changes in Student Drinking Rates in a Statewide Public College System: a Follow-up Study." Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy, vol. 5, 2010, p. 18.
Harris SK, Sherritt L, Van Hook S, et al. Alcohol policy enforcement and changes in student drinking rates in a statewide public college system: a follow-up study. Subst Abuse Treat Prev Policy. 2010;5:18.
Harris, S. K., Sherritt, L., Van Hook, S., Wechsler, H., & Knight, J. R. (2010). Alcohol policy enforcement and changes in student drinking rates in a statewide public college system: a follow-up study. Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy, 5, p. 18. doi:10.1186/1747-597X-5-18.
Harris SK, et al. Alcohol Policy Enforcement and Changes in Student Drinking Rates in a Statewide Public College System: a Follow-up Study. Subst Abuse Treat Prev Policy. 2010 Aug 4;5:18. PubMed PMID: 20684777.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - JOUR T1 - Alcohol policy enforcement and changes in student drinking rates in a statewide public college system: a follow-up study. AU - Harris,Sion K, AU - Sherritt,Lon, AU - Van Hook,Shari, AU - Wechsler,Henry, AU - Knight,John R, Y1 - 2010/08/04/ PY - 2009/08/10/received PY - 2010/08/04/accepted PY - 2010/8/6/entrez PY - 2010/8/6/pubmed PY - 2010/12/14/medline SP - 18 EP - 18 JF - Substance abuse treatment, prevention, and policy JO - Subst Abuse Treat Prev Policy VL - 5 N2 - BACKGROUND: Heavy alcohol use among U.S. college students is a major contributor to young adult morbidity and mortality. The aim of this study was to examine whether college alcohol policy enforcement levels predict changes in student drinking and related behaviors in a state system of public colleges and universities, following a system-wide change to a stricter policy. METHODS: Students and administrators at 11 Massachusetts public colleges/universities completed surveys in 1999 (N of students = 1252), one year after the policy change, and again in 2001 (N = 1074). We calculated policy enforcement scores for each school based on the reports of deans of students, campus security chiefs, and students, and examined the correlations between perceived enforcement levels and the change in student drinking rates over the subsequent two year period, after weighting the 2001 data to adjust for demographic changes in the student body. RESULTS: Overall rates of any past-30-days drinking, heavy episodic drinking, and usual heavy drinking among past-30-days drinkers were all lower in 2001 compared to 1999. School-level analyses (N = 11) found deans' baseline reports of stricter enforcement were strongly correlated with subsequent declines in heavy episodic drinking (Pearson's r = -0.73, p = 0.011). Moreover, consistently high enforcement levels across time, as reported by deans, were associated with greater declines in heavy episodic drinking. Such relationships were not found for students' and security chiefs' reports of enforcement. Marijuana use did not rise during this period of decline in heavy drinking. CONCLUSIONS: Study findings suggest that stronger enforcement of a stricter alcohol policy may be associated with reductions in student heavy drinking rates over time. An aggressive enforcement stance by deans may be an important element of an effective college alcohol policy. SN - 1747-597X UR - https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/20684777/Alcohol_policy_enforcement_and_changes_in_student_drinking_rates_in_a_statewide_public_college_system:_a_follow_up_study_ L2 - https://substanceabusepolicy.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1747-597X-5-18 DB - PRIME DP - Unbound Medicine ER -