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Boise State Researchers Seek to Curb Underage Drinking

A team of Boise State and other researchers are working to reduce underage drinking by developing evidence-based programs that can be used by local school districts.

Boise State faculty and students involved in the research are:

  • Diana Doumas, professor and chair of the Department of Counselor Education and director of the Institute for the Study of Addiction
  • Susan Esp, assistant professor of the Department of Community and Environmental Health
  • Robin Hausheer, project director of DrugFree Idaho, Inc., and an education doctoral student
  • Courtney Cuffee, master’s student in counselor education

Others involved in the projects are:

  • Robert Turrisi, a professor of biobehavioral health at the Prevention Research Center at Pennsylvania State University and a former Boise State University faculty member
  • Beverly Glouser, transition counselor with the Boise School District

Their research involves two studies. Results of the first study conducted in 2012-2013 showed that ninth-grade students who used a web-based alcohol prevention program had a significant reduction in the frequency of drinking and alcohol-related consequences.

Additionally, parental disapproval of drinking and the quality of parent-teen communication were related to alcohol use, suggesting that the addition of a parent intervention may strengthen the effect of the web-based program.

The research resulted in two publications:

  • Doumas, D. M., Hausheer, R., & Esp, S. (in press). “Heavy episodic drinking and alcohol-related consequences: Sex-specific differences in parental influences among 9th grade students.” Journal of Child and Adolescent Substance Abuse.
  • Doumas, D. M., Esp, S., Turrisi, R., Hausheer, R., & Cuffee, C. (2014). “A test of the efficacy of a brief, web-based personalized feedback intervention to reduce drinking among 9th grade students.” Addictive Behaviors, 39, 231-238.
  • Doumas is the principal investigator on the project. Esp and Hausheer serve as program coordinators. Glouser is the Boise School District liaison. Cuffee assisted with recruitment, data management and manuscript preparation. Turrisi designed and helped prepare the manuscript.

In the second study, which is in progress, the researchers are evaluating the relative effectiveness of the web-based program alone compared with the program plus a parent-based intervention. Follow-up data will be collected in March.