Using theory-based messages and implementation intentions to reduce binge drinking in new university students

  • P. Norman
  • T. Webb
  • A. Millings


Background. Excessive alcohol consumption, including binge drinking, increases when students enter university. This study tests whether combining messages based on the theory of planned behaviour (TPB) with instructions to form implementation intentions reduces the frequency of binge drinking in new university students. Methods. Students (N = 415) were recruited at the end of their first month at university and randomly assigned to condition in a 2 (TPB messages) × 2 (implementation intention) factorial design. Cognitions about binge drinking, as specified by the TPB, were assessed immediately post-intervention. Frequency of binge drinking was assessed one month later (n = 205). Findings. Participants who received the messages had significantly weaker intentions to engage in binge drinking (d = 0.32) and less favourable cognitions about binge drinking (affective attitude, descriptive norms, and self-efficacy) than those who did not receive the messages. One month later, participants who were instructed to form an implementation intention to avoid binge drinking reported fewer instances of binge drinking (d = 0.37), although this effect only approached significance (p < .10). The main effect of messages on the frequency of binge drinking at follow-up and the interaction between messages and implementation intentions were non-significant. Discussion. The findings provide some support for the use of interventions based on the TPB to reduce intentions to engage in binge drinking and for forming implementation intentions to reduce the frequency of binge drinking in new university students. However, no evidence was found for the synergistic effect of combing the two interventions.
Oral presentations