Date of Original Version
Background Matriculation from high school to college is typified by an increase in alcohol use and related harm for many students. Therefore, this transition period is an ideal time for preventive interventions to target alcohol use and related problems.
Purpose The purpose of this report is to describe the design and methods used in the Transitions Project, a randomized controlled trial of two interventions designed to prevent and reduce heavy episodic drinking and alcohol-related negative consequences among incoming college students.
Methods This study used a 2 × 2 factorial design to investigate the effects of a two-session brief motivational intervention delivered to students and a handbook-based parent intervention. Interventions were administered to students and parents. Follow-up assessment took place at 10- and 22-months post-baseline.
Results The Transitions Project successfully recruited and retained participants across a major transition period (i.e., entering college), administered and compared two distinct but complementary interventions, and collected and analyzed highly skewed data. The application of a factorial design and two-part latent growth curve modeling allowed us to examine main and interactive intervention effects in terms of both initiation and growth in heavy drinking and alcohol-related problems.
Limitations While we conducted successful tests of our primary and secondary study hypotheses over a lengthy follow-up period, our study design did not permit full interpretation of null findings. We suggest that researchers carefully consider assessment timing, tests of assessment reactivity, and ensure objective tests of intervention efficacy when conducting clinical trials of motivational interventions.
Conclusions The lessons we learned while conducting this trial have the potential to assist other researchers designing and conducting future preventive interventions targeting parents and college students. The data analytic procedures presented can also help guide trials that plan to analyze zero-inflated non-normal outcome data.
Fernandez, A., Wood, M., Laforge, R., & Black, J. (2011). Randomized trials of alcohol-use interventions with college students and their parents: lessons from the Transitions Project. Clinical Trials, 8(2), 205–213. https://doi.org/10.1177/1740774510396387
Available at: https://doi.org/10.1177/1740774510396387
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