Skip to main content

Results and Recommendations From the NIAAA Task Force on College Drinking: New Opportunities for Research and Program Planning

Treating Addictions in Special Populations: Research Confronts Reality

October 7 and 8, 2002

Binghamton Regency Conference Center
Binghamton, New York

Fred Donodeo, MPA
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
Bethesda, MD

Why Was the Task Force Created?

  • Increasing Public and NIAAA Concern
  • Congressional Inquiries
  • Gaps in Research
  • Need to provide science-based information to colleges
  • Bring research to the forefront of the discussion

Composition of Task Force

  • 15 College Presidents
  • 17 Researchers
  • 8 College Students
  • 4 High School Students
  • Chairs:
    • Rev. Edward Malloy (U.N.D.)
    • Dr. Mark Goldman (U.S.F.)

Task Force Goals

  • Provide new, comprehensive data on the extent of the problem
  • Advise NIAAA and other policymakers on gaps in knowledge to inform future research to improve campus prevention and treatment programs
  • Provide presidents, policymakers, and researchers with information and recommendations on the effectiveness of current interventions and encourage them to embrace rigorous methodology and research-based solutions in general

Why is the Task Force Unique?

  • First project of such length (3 years) involving presidents and researchers who deliberated to reach their conclusions
  • First NIH report on college drinking to offer recommendations based on a comprehensive review of the research literature
  • First report to offer tiered, research-based recommendations to presidents and staff
  • Offers a comprehensive research agenda to address gaps in knowledge

Task Force Products

  • Task Force Report
  • Two Panel Reports
  • 24 scientific papers (see handout):
    • 1 published in the Journal on Alcohol Studies
    • 18 published in a supplement to the Journal on Alcohol Studies
  • Brochures for parents, presidents, and RAs/Peer Educators
  • Planning Guide for college staff on how to implement and evaluate intervention programs
  • Website
  • CD - ROM

Major Sections of the Task Force Report

  • Extent of the Problem
  • Research-based recommendations for Presidents
  • Recommendations for future research
  • Research Recommendations for NIAAA

Magnitude of College Drinking Consequences (All statistics are annual)

  • 1,400 Alcohol-Related Unintentional Injury Deaths (1,100 Traffic)
  • 2.1 Million Drove Under the Influence
  • 500,000 Injured
  • 400,000 Had Unprotected Sex
  • 100,000 Had Sex When Unable to Consent
  • 70,000 Victims of Sexual Assault
  • 600,000 Assaulted

Research-based Recommendations for Presidents and Programming Staff

  • 3-in-1 Framework
  • "Tier" Approach

The 3-in-1 Framework

The 3-in-1 Framework is a useful introduction to encourage presidents, administrators, college prevention specialists, students, and community members to think in a broad and comprehensive fashion about college drinking.

  • Individuals, including at-risk or alcohol-dependent drinkers
  • Student body as a whole
  • College and Surrounding community

Task Force Recommendations

  • Tier 1: Evidence of Effectiveness Among College Students
  • Tier 2: Evidence of Success With General Populations That Could Be Applied to College Environments
  • Tier 3: Evidence of Logical and Theoretical Promise, But Require More Comprehensive Evaluation
  • Tier 4: Evidence of Ineffectiveness

Recommendations for the Research Community

  • High priority on evaluation research
  • Well-designed evaluation studies...
    • Increase likelihood of program effectiveness
    • Maximize use of resources
    • Validate program credibility
  • Extract more and better information from existing research databases
  • Develop standards for assessing campus alcohol problems, monitoring trends, and evaluating programs
  • Improve existing data systems (e.g. FARS) to more accurately monitor college drinking deaths over time
  • Collaborate with universities to capitalize on "natural experiments"
  • Partner with universities on short-term evaluations of popular, common- sense prevention strategies
  • Assist universities in using research- based evidence to improve alcohol policies and programs

Recommendations to NIAAA: Improving Research Methods

  • Implement a national surveillance and data system for all U.S. colleges and universities
  • Support development of state-of- the - art screening and assessment measures

Recommendations to NIAAA: Lengthy and Complex Research

  • Longitudinal studies of youth - early adolescence to young adulthood
  • Measuring effectiveness of campus- community coalitions
  • Multi-site campus trials of promising strategies

Other Task Force Recommendations to NIAAA

  • Disseminate research-based information to all college campuses
  • Expand funding to support college drinking research on as many campuses as possible

Ongoing NIAAA Activities

  • Website
  • Regional Workshops
  • Annual Updates
  • Research funding available from NIAAA: $8 million over next two years


  • Task Force conclusions are not an end, but a beginning
  • Provides the foundation for science, rather than anecdote, to guide college drinking prevention efforts

Scientific Papers Commissioned by The NIAAA Task Force On College Drinking

Papers Commissioned by Panel 1: Contexts and Consequences

  • Magnitude of Alcohol Related Mortality and Morbidity Among U.S. College Students Ages 18-24, Ralph Hingson, et al.
  • Measuring College Alcohol Use and Abuse The Method Shapes the Message, George Dowdall and Henry Wechsler
  • Epidemiology of Alcohol Uses Among College Students, Patrick O’Malley
  • Student Factors: Understanding Individual Variation in College Drinking, John Baer
  • Today’s First Year Students and Alcohol, Lee Upcraft
  • So What is An Administrator to Do?, Susan Murphy
  • College Factors Influencing Drinking, Phil Meilman and Cheryl Presley
  • A Developmental Perspective on Alcohol Use and Heavy Drinking during Adolescence and the Transition to Young Adulthood, John Schulenberg and Jennifer Maggs
  • Alcohol Use and Risky Sexual Behavior Among College Students, Lynne Cooper
  • Surveying the Damage: A Review of Research on Consequences of Alcohol Misuse in College Populations, Wesley Perkins
  • Alcohol and Aggression on College Campuses, Peter Giancola
  • Alcohol and Sexual Assault: A Common Problem Among College Students, Antonia Abbey
  • The Adolescent Brain and the College Drinker: Biological Bais of Propensity to Use and Misuse Alcohol, Linda Spear

Papers Commissioned by Panel 2: Prevention and Treatment

  • Individually Oriented Interventions, Mary Larimer
  • Campus Norm Setting, Wesley Perkins
  • Environmental Policy, Traci Toomey and Alexander Wagenaar
  • Effects of Uniform Age 21 Laws, Alexander Wagenaar and Traci Toomey
  • Comprehensive Interventions, Ralph Hingson
  • Advertising and Promotion, Henry Saffer
  • Methodology, Robert Saltz
  • Description of Ongoing Policies and Practices, William DeJong
  • Counter-Advertising and the Use of Media for Health Promotions, William DeJong
  • Student Perspectives, Peggy Eastman
  • Politics of Change and Leadership: Questions and Answers with College Presidents, Joy Mara

* Full text of all papers can be found at