The Power of Social Networks: Trial Outcomes of a Two-Stage Social Network Intervention Aimed at Reducing Hazardous Drinking in the First Twelve Months at Residential College.
Background: Social processes play a critical role in driving risky drinking among young people living residential colleges. As such, there is excellent potential to utilise the power of social networks in college alcohol interventions.
Methods: Five colleges were recruited. Stage 1 was delivered to the first-year network at all colleges. Stage 1 included an educational workshop about alcohol harm-minimisation strategies, and a baseline survey. Stage 2 was delivered to the largest first-year network only and included a targeted social network intervention. To identify influential students, we collected social network data at 4-weeks post baseline and used a social network analysis method called ‘Strategic Players’. Strategic Players were offered a novel, evidence-based brief motivational interviewing intervention called Quik Fix, which was developed by the research team and proved more effective than usual BMI in a recent RCT. All participants completed follow-ups at 3-, 6-, 12-months.
Results: In Stage 1, participation was excellent (N = 542), and the sample were hazardous drinkers, according to the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (M = 9.85). In Stage 2, we collected valid network data from 86% (n = 134) of the Stage 2 cohort (N = 155). We then applied Strategic Players analysis to identify 60 students to receive Quik Fix. Results of mixed-effects, repeated measures analyses revealed promising evidence for the efficacy of the targetted social network intervetion at 6-months, atop the stage 1 workshop. Results of the 12-month follow up (March 2022) will demonstrate whether there was sustained efficacy of the targetted SNI in reducing hazardous drinking.
Conclusion: So far, results have demonstrated initial evidence of the feasibility and efficacy of this two-stage social-network-intervention. Results in the coming months will indicate whether this novel and efficient approach to reducing hazardous drinking in the first year at residential college has sustained impact.