Alcohol Use and Stress in University Freshmen - A Comparative Intervention Study of Two Universities
Sammanfattning: Starting university is associated with major academic, personal and social opportunities. For many people, university entrance is also associated with increased stress and alcohol consumption. At the start of the autumn term 2002, all students entering educational programmes at two comparable middle-sized Swedish universities were invited to participate in a comparative intervention study. This included both primary and secondary interventions targeting hazardous drinking and stress. The overall aim was to improve alcohol habits and stress patterns in university freshmen at an intervention university in comparison with a control university.
A total of 2,032 (72%) freshmen responded to the baseline assessment. Half of them scored above traditional AUDIT cut-off levels for hazardous alcohol use. Factors associated with hazardous use were age below 26, male gender, family history of alcohol problems, and not being in a serious relationship. The Arnetz and Hasson Stress Questionnaire was evaluated and used to study a selection of freshmen at high riskof stress. It was easy to use and offered sufficient internal consistency and construct validity. In the freshman year, 517 students (25%) dropped out from university education. A multivariate analysis established that high stress and university setting was associated with dropout from university studies, while symptoms of depression and anxiety as well as hazardous drinking were not.
Outcome was analysed in students remaining at university at one-year follow-up. The primary interventions offered to freshmen at the intervention university reduced alcohol expectancies and mental symptoms compared with freshmen at the control university. Secondary stress interventions were effective in reducing mental symptoms and alcohol expectancies. Secondary alcohol interventions were effective in reducing AUDIT scores, alcohol expectancies, estimated blood alcohol concentrations, as well as stress and mental symptoms.
In conclusion, both primary and secondary alcohol and stress interventions have one-year effects in university freshmen and could be used in university settings.
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