UofM Study Shows Brief Therapy Reduces Alcohol-Impaired Driving

October 20, 2015 - Treatments developed in the University of Memphis Department of Psychology have been shown to reduce alcohol-impaired driving among young adults.

Drinking and driving among college students remains a significant public health concern and may be the single most risky drinking outcome among young adults. The current UofM study examined the impact of brief motivational interventions (individual therapeutic sessions delivered in a nonjudgmental, empathic style by a trained facilitator) on drinking and driving among college students on three different college campuses.

Participants in all three studies received a brief intervention, an alcohol education session or an alcohol assessment. They were evaluated six to nine months later to determine how these sessions impacted rates of drinking and driving. In the brief intervention condition, the number of students reporting driving after drinking decreased by 28 percent. In contrast, in the education or assessment conditions, the number of students reporting drinking and driving increased by 23 percent.

The study provides support for the effectiveness of brief interventions for reducing drinking and driving and suggests that the current strategy used by many colleges - providing education about the risks associated with drinking and driving - may not be enough to reduce this dangerous behavior.

This study was directed by UofM clinical psychology doctoral student Jenni Teeters in conjunction with her Psychology Department adviser, Dr. James Murphy, and collaborators Dr. Brian Borsari of Brown University and Matthew Martens of the University of Missouri. The article was published in the most recent issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. The article is available online at www.jsad.com/doi/10.15288/jsad.2015.76.700.

Contact: Gabrielle Maxey