This project will refine and extend our successful parent-based social norms intervention for reducing risky college drinking (Feedback Intervention Targeting Student Transitions and Risk Trajectories; NIAAA grant R21 AA021870). We aim to adapt the parent-based intervention (PBI) for online rather than in-person delivery, significantly enhance the content, and conduct a feasibility trial.
Pilot work by the HeadsUP Team has revealed that, like students, parents display predictable normative misperceptions. Specifically, parents overestimate how approving other parents are of drinking and underestimate how often other parents engage with their students about drinking. As predicted by social norms theory, these false beliefs are associated with parents displaying more approving attitudes themselves and communicating less frequently. Correcting these norms should motivate parents to proactively engage their child in risk-reducing directions. Thus, our original PBI delivered to parents in person at a single summer orientation session combined a social norms feedback component with informational material (“tips”). While the effects on weekly drinking, HED, and non-drinker alcohol use initiation were robust 1-month into college (3-months post intervention), they were no longer present near the end of the second semester. Additionally, the original PBI’s usefulness as a universal approach was limited because it was delivered to parent groups on-campus during pre-college orientation sessions and many colleges do not hold summer orientations and/or lack the resources to administer the session.
The current project seeks to refine and adapt this intervention using a new cutting-edge modality developed by our team in extensive pilot work conducted during the past two years. Drawing from the computer science literature on virtual co-presence, we have been able to create an online environment that mimics the effects of a live group social norms session. Applied to the PBI, this technology will make the program much easier to disseminate. Further, it will allow us to easily extend the PBI, delivering additional content to parents in additional modules across students’ first year of college.
This proposal has two main aims accomplished in two distinct phases. Phase I will employ a mixed-method participatory design approach to digital product development with several sets of parent focus groups first querying parents’ normative attitudes and behaviors related to parent-student alcohol communication, as well as their preferences for web-based platform features, graphics, layouts, and notifications. Then, a longitudinal survey study will follow 500 parents of incoming first-year students through their students’ first-semester to document norms and identify additional parent-child communication concerns that emerge during the transition to college. A final set of parent focus groups will examine the completed web-based parent platform for feedback and ease-of-use. Importantly, parent focus group and survey data will together inform the development of intervention content and features. Phase 1 will result in a fully-functional, user-friendly, web-based FITSTART+ platform carefully tailored to the needs and desires of parents’ of first-year college students. In Phase II, the project will assess the feasibility and efficacy of the completed FITSTART+ intervention through a pilot trial.
- Earle, A.M., LaBrie, J.W. (2016) The upside of helicopter parenting: Engaging parents to reduce first-year student drinking, Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice, 53:3, 319-330, DOI: 10.1080/19496591.2016.1165108
- LaBrie, J.W., Earle, A.M., Boyle, S.C., Hummer, J.F., Montes, K., Turrisi, R. (2016) A parent-based intervention reduces heavy episodic drinking among first-year college students. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 30(5), 523-535. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/adb0000187
- Napper, L.E., LaBrie, J.W., Earle, A. (2016) Online personalized normative alcohol feedback for parents of first year college students. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 30(8), 802-810. doi:10.1037/adb0000211.
- Napper, L.E., Froidevaux, N.M., LaBrie, J.W. (2016) Being blunt about marijuana: Parent communication about marijuana with their emerging adult children. Prevention Science, 17(7), 882-891. doi: 10.1007/s11121-016-0681-0
- LaBrie, J.W., Boyle, S.C., Napper, L.E. (2015) Alcohol abstinence or harm-reduction? Parental messages for college-bound light drinkers. Addictive Behaviors, 46, 10-13. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.addbeh.2015.02.019