Health Behaviors of Mandated and Voluntary Students in a Motivational Intervention Program

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Preventive Medicine Reports

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College students engage in many unhealthy behaviors, one of these, heavy alcohol use, is a major global public health problem.


This longitudinal study examined whether students' mandated/voluntary status in a program to reduce college drinking was associated with overall health, ethnicity, gender, and personality traits. Both mandated and voluntary groups participated in the Motivational Intervention (MI) program to prevent high risk drinking.


Freshmen (710 voluntary, 190 mandated, n = 900) between the ages of 18 and 21, received the MI at baseline and again at 2 weeks, with boosters at 3, 6 and 12 months. Participants completed three measures: the Daily Drinking Questionnaire (DDQ); the Substance Use Risk Profile Scale (SURPS), and the Health Promoting Lifestyle Profile II (HPLPII). Mandated and voluntary participants were compared at baseline and following the intervention using two sample t-tests for continuous variables (overall health, personality traits, drinking measures), and chi-square for categorical variables (gender, ethnicity). Linear mixed models were used to identify associations between HPLP II scores and mandated/voluntary status, time, ethnicity gender and SURPS scale scores.


In both groups, alcohol consumption dropped significantly by 12 months. Overall health-promoting behaviors, physical activity, stress management, and interpersonal relations improved in both groups between baseline and 12 months. Associations were found between alcohol consumption, personality traits, gender, and lifestyle health-promoting behaviors. In particular, impulsivity and hopelessness were associated with poor health behaviors.


Intervention programs to reduce drinking by college students need to address developmental dynamics of freshmen students, including gender, psychosocial factors, personality, and lifestyle health-promoting behaviors.