PROVIDENCE, R.I., May 19 (UPI) -- Although interventions often work for heavy drinkers and people with alcohol dependency, a recent review of studies suggests they are far less effective with college students.
Researchers at Brown University found interventions and disciplinary actions did not work to reduce drinking among fraternity and sorority members at universities around the country.
The prevalence of drinking among college students, especially among members of Greek organizations, is well-known. While some interventions were somewhat more effective, according to the meta-analysis of studies, they mostly had short-lived, relatively weak results at reducing alcohol consumption among students.
"Research shows that interventions delivered to heavier drinkers can produce strong and enduring reductions in alcohol consumption," Dr. Lori Scott-Sheldon, a senior research scientist at The Miriam Hospital and professor at Brown University, said in a press release. "But what is working for the broader college student population has been less effective for fraternity and sorority members, and we need to refine or create new interventions that work better for these students."
For the study, published in the journal Health Psychology, researchers reviewed 15 studies on 21 separate interventions conducted between 1987 and 2014 with 6,026 students, 18 percent of whom were women.
Overall, the researchers report interventions were not successful at reducing alcohol consumption and problems related to self-control.
Some participants in the study reduced drinking for specific occasions, and interventions based on times when it is a good or bad idea to drink were somewhat effective. Interventions based on skills-training, identifying high-risk situations or goal-setting, however, were far less effective at reducing alcohol consumption.
In addition to new, more robust methods being required to reduce drinking among college students, the researchers say more studies are required with a higher percentage of women in order to get a better picture of the problem.
"It is important to note that nearly 80 percent of the samples were fraternity members," Scott-Sheldon said. "More data are needed on the efficacy of interventions for members of sororities especially given that studies have shown sorority women are more likely to experience sexual assault than non-sorority women."