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Preliminary Development of a Brief Intervention to Prevent Alcohol Misuse and Enhance Sport Performance in Collegiate Athletes

Researchers set out to address the growing concern of alcohol consumption, heavy drinking episodes, and alcohol-related consequences among college student athletes. Past literature has indicated that successful alcohol misuse interventions incorporate components such as individualized feedback and goal-setting. This study was conducted to develop and test an intervention using support systems, brief assessment, goal construction, and contingency management. Incoming college freshman athletes (n=201) participated in the study and were randomly assigned to receive the intervention or control condition. Participants assigned to the intervention were to identify a supportive other that would attend with them (parent, significant other, etc.). Baseline measurements included the Sport Interference Checklist (SIC) to identify troublesome behaviors that interfere with sport performance and the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) to detect harmful levels of alcohol consumption. Participants and their supportive others met with a performance coach for the intervention program. They were provided feedback and performance-oriented goals based on their alcohol use and troublesome behaviors identified at baseline. Supportive others were instructed to contingently reward goal achievement.  At the 2-month follow-up, alcohol consumption (measured by AUDIT scores) had significantly reduced for participants in the intervention condition compared to those the control condition. Academic problems during training, injury concerns during training, and dysfunctional thoughts/stress during competition were also significantly lower at 2 month follow-up for those that received the intervention.

Take away: The results of this study indicate that brief assessment, goal development, contingency management, and the involvement of student’s significant others are potentially effective components to include in alcohol prevention interventions for college student athletes. Future research should also explore the influence of coaches, peers, teammates, and other relationships in the development of prevention programs.

Donohue, B., Loughran, T., Pitts, M., Gavrilova, Y., Chow, G., Nevarez, A.S., & Schubert, K. (2016). Preliminary Development of a Brief Intervention to Prevent Alcohol Misuse and Enhance Sport Performance in Collegiate Athletes. Journal of Drug Abuse, 2(3:26)

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