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Your faculty and staff news since 1965
December 13, 2004
Volume 40, Number 5

Web site to educate about binge drinking
UNM's CASAA awarded $2 million to develop

By Steve Carr

UNM’s Center on Alcohol, Substance Abuse, and Addictions (CASAA) received a $2.05 million grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism of the National Institutes of Health to develop and evaluate an interactive Web site targeted at reducing binge drinking on college campuses.

The four-year, two-phase project will be conducted with entering freshmen at colleges in New Mexico and Colorado. Colorado universities recently had several high-profile student alcohol-related tragedies.

“People are aware of college binge drinking and are trying a lot of different things to get kids to stop it,” said Gill Woodall, senior research scientist at CASAA and principal investigator. “Binge drinking among college students has been better described than influenced by prevention researchers. Unfortunately, many programs that focus on helping students do not evaluate their own effectiveness.

“The goals of this program are to not only provide a positive influence, but to provide a comprehensive test of the impact that the Web site program has on the reduction of binge drinking behaviors. It’s an application we’ve been working on for some time,” Woodall said.

The Internet intervention will employ motivational interviewing and normative feedback principles in its design and will contain six modules.

Based on the participant’s response, the Web site will provide corrective normative feedback and a menu of advice and options for reduction of risky alcohol consumption.

Taking advantage of the average college student’s unlimited Internet access, the program aims to minimize many of the obstacles that traditional intervention programs have had to address, such as physical location, costs per participant and comprehensiveness. In addition, the anonymity of the medium promotes honest involvement from participants. Students will also be paid incentives for completing Web modules and for their participation.

“We’ll use theoretical principles and solicit comments from students to develop concepts we know are useful,” said Woodall. “We will start from the ground up with user needs. We feel this will set the project apart.”

Experts involved with the new program are optimistic.

“All the pieces have come together for this project, and we are truly looking forward to the evaluation stage. I can see it making a great impact on future students,” said Aimee Giese, creative director for Klein Buendel, the design firm providing multimedia components.