Drinking is influenced by youth (mis)perceptions of how their peers drink. If misperceptions can be corrected, young people may drink less.
To determine whether social norms feedback reduces alcohol misuse in university or college students.
Cochrane Drugs and Alcohol Group Register of Trials; Central; MEDLINE; EMBASE; PsyInfo; CINAHL (up to March 2008).
RCT or cluster RCT that evaluate social normative intervention with no intervention, alcohol education leaflet or other non-normative feedback intervention
Data collection and analysis
2/3 authors extracted data. Included studies were assessed against criteria indicated in the Cochrane Reviewers Handbook version 5.0.0.
Twenty-two studies were included (7,275 participants).
Alcohol related problems: Significant reduction with Web/computer feedback (WF) (SMD -0.31 95% Cl -0.59 to -0.02), three studies, 278 participants. No significant effect of mailed feedback (MF), individual face-to-face feedback (IFF) or group face-to-face feedback (GFF).
Peak Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) : Significant reduction with WF (SMD -0.77 95% Cl -1.25 to -0.28), two studies, 198 participants. No significant effect of MF or IFF.
Drinking Frequency: Significant reduction with WF (SMD -0.38 95% Cl -0.63 to -0.13), two studies, 243 participants and IFF (SMD -0.39 95% Cl -0.66 to -0.12), two studies, 217 participants. No significant effect of MF.
Drinking Quantity: Significant reduction with WF (SMD -0.35 95% Cl -0.51 to -0.18), five studies, 556 participants and GFF (SMD -0.32 95% Cl -0.63 to -0.02) three studies, 173 participants. No significant effect of MF or IF.
Binge drinking: Significant reduction with WF (SMD -0.47 95% Cl -0.92 to -0.03) one study, 80 participants, IFF (SMD -0.25 95% Cl -0.49 to -0.02) three studies, 278 participants and and GFF (SMD -0.38 95% Cl -0.62 to -0.14) four studies, 264 participants. No significant effect for MF.
BAC: No significant effect of MF and IFF
Drinking norms: Significant reduction with WF (SMD -0.75 95% Cl -0.98 to -0.52 ) three studies, 312 participants.
WF and IFF are probably effective in reducing alcohol misuse. No direct comparisons of WF against IFF were found, but WF impacted across a broader set of outcomes and is less costly so therefore might be preferred. Significant effects were more apparent for short-term outcomes (up to three months). For mailed and group feedback, and social norms marketing campaigns, the results are on the whole not significant and therefore cannot be recommended.
Moreira, TSmith, LFoxcroft, D
Faculty of Health and Life Sciences
Year of publication: 2009Date of RADAR deposit: 2010-07-30