1. Potera, Carol


Success with a community-based prevention program.


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Students involved in the Safer California Universities Project (known as Safer), a "multicomponent environmental prevention intervention" to help curb dangerous drinking in California university students, were less likely to drink to intoxication at bars and restaurants (15% less likely), at off-campus parties (9% less likely), and "anywhere" (6% less likely), compared with student controls. These declines were equivalent to 6,000 fewer incidents of intoxication at off-campus parties and 4,000 fewer drinking incidents at bars and restaurants during the fall semester, relative to controls.

Figure. A police off... - Click to enlarge in new windowFigure. A police officer stops a driver at an on-campus sobriety checkpoint at the University of California, Irvine, one of many schools participating in the Safer California Universities Project. Photo by Steve Zylius / UC Irvine Communications.

Undergraduates at 14 campuses of the University of California and the California State University systems (1,000 to 2,000 students per campus) were surveyed about their drinking habits. Half of the campuses were randomly assigned to the Safer intervention and half to no intervention. Staff at university health centers coordinated efforts of university and community departments, especially police.


The Safer program involved a variety of elements, including educational Web sites, brochures, e-mails, and newspaper articles, in combination with police efforts to prevent the sale of alcohol to minors, stop cars to check for drunk drivers, and patrol parties for underage drinking. The program concentrated on off-campus drinking, so parties at on-campus fraternities and sororities weren't affected as much.


In their conclusion, the study authors wrote that their findings "should give college administrators some degree of optimism that student drinking is amenable to a combination of well-chosen, evidence-based universal prevention strategies," in contrast to interventions aimed at individuals. They also noted that although the control strategies used in this study worked well, other combinations may work as well or better.


Ideally, the intervention would be incorporated into a more comprehensive system of alcohol prevention and treatment programs to identify students who need intervention.


"College health services, and nurses," said the study's lead author, Robert Saltz, in an e-mail to AJN, may well "become involved in screening for alcohol dependency or risky drinking and delivering creative treatments," which places nurses in a prime position to take the lead in future projects.-Carol Potera


Saltz RF, et al. Am J Prev Med 2010;39(6): 491-9.