Efficacy of a non-drinking mental simulation intervention for reducing student alcohol consumption

Conroy, Dominic, Sparks, Paul and de Visser, Richard (2015) Efficacy of a non-drinking mental simulation intervention for reducing student alcohol consumption. British Journal of Health Psychology, 20 (4). pp. 688-707. ISSN 1359-107X

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Objectives. To assess the impact of a mental simulation intervention designed to reduce student alcohol consumption by asking participants to imagine potential positive outcomes of and/or strategic processes involved in not drinking during social occasions. Design. English university students aged 18-25 years (n = 211, M.Age = 20 years) were randomly allocated to one of four intervention conditions. The dependent variables were weekly alcohol consumption, heavy episodic drinking (HED) and frequency of social occasions at which participants did not drink alcohol when others were drinking alcohol ('episodic non-drinking'). Measures of alcohol-related prototypes (i.e., prototypical non-drinker, prototypical regular drinker) were used to compute sociability prototype difference scores as a potential mediator of any intervention effects. All measures were taken at baseline and at two- and four-week follow-up. Methods. Participants completed one of four exercises involving either: imagining positive outcomes of non-drinking during a social occasion (outcome condition); imagining strategies required for non-drinking during a social occasion (process condition); imagining both positive outcomes and required strategies (combined condition); or completing a drinks diary task (control condition). Results. Latent growth curve analyses revealed a more substantial rate of decrease in weekly unit consumption and HED frequency among outcome condition and process condition participants, relative to control condition participants. Non-significant differences were found between the combined condition and the control condition. Across the whole sample, an inverted U-shape trend indicated an initial increase in episodic non-drinking before it returned to baseline levels. Conclusion. This study provides preliminary evidence that mental simulation interventions focused on non-drinking can successfully promote behaviour change.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: University students, Alcohol consumption, Binge drinking, Health promotion, Mental Simulations, Behaviour change intervention, Structural equation modelling, Latent growth curve analysis
Schools and Departments: School of Psychology > Psychology
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Dominic Conroy
Date Deposited: 12 Feb 2015 09:12
Last Modified: 02 Jul 2019 22:19
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/52903

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Project NameSussex Project NumberFunderFunder Ref
Non-drinkers and Non-drinking: A Mixed Methods Research ProgrammeUnsetESRCES/J500173/1