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Developing Text Messages to Reduce Community College Student Alcohol Use

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The aim of this study is to evaluate how community college students with hazardous drinking perceived the usefulness of alcohol protective behavioral strategy text messages (TM-PBS).


Community college students with past hazardous single occasion or weekly drinking (N = 48; 60% female) were randomized to receive 2 TM-PBS on 3 typical drinking days per week for 2 weeks selected by: (1) research investigators (ie, based on clinical and theoretical application); (2) participants (ie, messages highly rated at baseline by the participants); or (3) a random process. Prior to 2 typical drinking days per week, immediately after receiving TMs, we asked: “How useful do you think this strategy will be for you when you drink? Text a number from 1 (not useful) to 5 (very useful).”


Response rates for the 12 messages ranged from 72.9% to 87.5%, with no differences in response rates across selection categories (ie, investigator, participant, random). Investigator-selected messages were rated as less useful than messages that were self-selected by participants or messages that were selected at random.


TM-PBS chosen a priori by students were perceived as more useful than TM-PBS chosen by investigators, supporting this form of tailoring in alcohol interventions to optimize usefulness.
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Keywords: alcohol; brief intervention; community college students; protective behavioral strategies; text messages

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 July 2018

More about this publication?
  • The American Journal of Health Behavior seeks to improve the quality of life through multidisciplinary health efforts in fostering a better understanding of the multidimensional nature of both individuals and social systems as they relate to health behaviors.

    The Journal aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the impact of personal attributes, personality characteristics, behavior patterns, social structure, and processes on health maintenance, health restoration, and health improvement; to disseminate knowledge of holistic, multidisciplinary approaches to designing and implementing effective health programs; and to showcase health behavior analysis skills that have been proven to affect health improvement and recovery.

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