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Pre-College Talk With Parents Reduces Student Drinking

Findings based on varying strategies for family discussions and targeted efforts to cut risks

THURSDAY, March 28 (HealthDay News) -- Parents talking to their matriculating college-age students about drinking lessens alcohol consumption, according to a study published in the January issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

Rob Turrisi, Ph.D., from Pennsylvania State University in University Park, and colleagues randomized college students to one of four conditions (pre-college matriculation [PCM], pre-college matriculation plus boosters [PCM+B], after college matriculation [ACM], and control conditions) involving the timing and quantity of parent-student discussions about drinking. In all, 1,900 students completed a Web-based survey the summer before college and during the fall of their first and second years.

The researchers found that four patterns of drinking (non-drinkers, weekend light drinkers, weekend heavy episodic drinkers, and heavy drinkers) were present at all waves. The PCM intervention was most effective at influencing baseline heavy drinkers' transition out of this pattern to lower risk patterns at first follow-up and remained effective at long-term follow-up. The ACM condition was not effective at preventing drinking escalation for baseline non-drinkers at first follow-up. Increased parental intervention was not significantly associated with either reduction or escalation of use.

"The results underscore the value of pre-college parental interventions and targeted efforts to reduce high-risk drinking among college students," the authors write.

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