Comparative Effectiveness of Brief Alcohol Interventions for College Students: Results from a Network Meta-Analysis

Emily Alden Hennessy, Emily E. Tanner-Smith, Dimitris Mavridis, Sean P. Grant

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

5 Scopus citations


Late adolescence is a time of increased drinking, and alcohol plays a predominant role in college social experiences. Colleges seeking to prevent students’ hazardous drinking may elect to implement brief alcohol interventions (BAIs). However, numerous manualized BAIs exist, so an important question remains regarding the comparative effectiveness of these different types of BAIs for college students. This study uses network meta-analyses (NMA) to compare seven manualized BAIs for reducing problematic alcohol use among college students. We systematically searched multiple sources for literature, and we screened studies and extracted data in duplicate. For the quantitative synthesis, we employed a random-effects frequentist NMA to determine the effectiveness of different BAIs compared to controls and estimated the relative effectiveness ranking of each BAI. A systematic literature search resulted in 52 included studies: On average, 58% of participants were male, 75% were binge drinkers, and 20% were fraternity/sorority-affiliated students. Consistency models demonstrated that BASICS was consistently effective in reducing students’ problematic alcohol use (ES range: g = − 0.23, 95%CI [− 0.36, − 0.16] to g = − 0.36, 95% CI [− 0.55, − 0.18]), but AlcoholEDU (g = − 0.13, 95%CI [− 0.22, − 0.04]), e-CHUG (g = − 0.35, 95%CI [− 0.45, − 0.05]), and THRIVE (g = − 0.47, 95%CI [− 0.60, − 0.33]) were also effective for some outcomes. Intervention rankings indicated that BASICS, THRIVE, and AlcoholEDU hold the most promise for future trials. Several BAIs appear effective for college students. BASICS was the most effective but is resource intensive and may be better suited for higher risk students; THRIVE and e-CHUG are less resource intensive and show promise for universal prevention efforts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)715-740
Number of pages26
JournalPrevention Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 15 2019


  • Brief alcohol intervention
  • College students
  • Network meta-analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Comparative Effectiveness of Brief Alcohol Interventions for College Students: Results from a Network Meta-Analysis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this