Newswise — Emerging adulthood (between ages 18-25) is a period of critical vulnerability for problematic alcohol use. A substantial amount of research has examined alcohol risks in college-student populations, while much less research has focused on emerging adults who are not attending college. This study investigated the effectiveness of a brief personalized feedback intervention (PFI) tailored for nonstudent at-risk drinkers, the influence of gender on intervention outcomes, and the acceptability of the intervention to participants.

Researchers recruited 164 emerging adults (108 men, 56 women) from a mid-size, urban southeastern U.S. city. The mean age of the sample was 22 years. All participants were randomly assigned to either a 50-minute, in-person PFI or an assessment-only control group. They were compensated up to $180 for completing the entire study.  Assessment was carried out during the nine months following the intervention.

For short-term change (1 month), the PFI reduced drinking significantly more than controls. For longer-term change (1 to 9 months), both groups showed a gradual decline in alcohol consumption. Participants were extremely satisfied with the intervention, perceived the information to be personally relevant, and thought it provided them a new way of looking at their own drinking. The PFI appeared to be a promising intervention approach for nonstudent drinkers in the community and, as one of the first randomized studies of its kind, this research advanced knowledge about an understudied and at-risk group of drinkers.  The authors noted that this line of research can also help to reduce alcohol-related health disparities that may be associated with unequal education.