Brief Online Study Abroad Alcohol Intervention

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Alcohol Abuse


Behavioral: PNF + SAF

Study type


Funder types




Details and patient eligibility


This study involves a randomized controlled trial that builds upon a successful pilot intervention study to address problematic and dangerous drinking among young adult college students studying abroad in foreign environments. Despite universities and colleges citing alcohol misuse as the most concerning issue for their students abroad, most institutions offer no empirically-based prevention efforts tailored to this at-risk population. The proposed intervention attempts to fill a major gap for the nearly 333,000 students completing study abroad programs each year by addressing empirically-based and theoretically-informed risk and protective factors of correcting misperceived peer drinking norms and promoting cultural engagement abroad. In addition to preventing heavy and problematic drinking, the intervention seeks to prevent risky behaviors and experience of sexual violence victimization, which are strikingly common among study abroad students and have the potential for lasting physical and psychological effects upon return home. The investigators will conduct a randomized controlled trial of a developed intervention with a sample of 1,200 college students studying abroad from 35 U.S. universities and colleges. The brief, online intervention is text and video based and contains evidence-based components of personalized normative feedback to correct students' misperceived drinking norms, content to promote engagement with the cultural experience abroad and addressed difficulties adjusting to life in the foreign environment, and tips and strategies to prevent risky sexual behaviors and sexual violence victimization abroad. Participants will complete online surveys at five time points (predeparture, first month abroad, last month abroad, one-month post-return, and three-months post-return) to assess for intervention effects on drinking, risky sex, and sexual violence outcomes. The investigators will examine whether the mechanisms targeted by the intervention (changes in perceived norms, engagement in the cultural experience abroad) serve as mediators of intervention efficacy.


1,200 estimated patients




18 to 25 years old


Accepts Healthy Volunteers

Inclusion criteria

  • Between the ages of 18 and 25
  • Signed up to study abroad in one of the 12 most popular destinations (i.e., United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, France, Germany, China, Ireland, Australia, Costa Rica, Japan, South Africa, and Mexico
  • Plan to study abroad for between 8 and 21 weeks (approximately one quarter/semester)
  • Have a working email address

Exclusion criteria

None except not meeting eligibility criteria

Trial design

Primary purpose




Interventional model

Parallel Assignment


None (Open label)

1,200 participants in 2 patient groups

TREK Study Abroad Program
Experimental group
On-screen personalized normative feedback (PNF) will contain information on the drinking behavior and attitudes about gender- and country-specific study abroad peers. Participants will view text-based tips and strategies and watch clips of prior student abroad students discussing how they met their cultural engagement goals while abroad (Sojourner Adjustment Feedback or SAF). Content focuses around the four aspects of positive sojourner adjustment (social interaction with host nationals, cultural understanding and participation, language development and use, host culture identification) and the two negative sojourner adjustment factors while abroad (i.e., social interaction with co-nationals, homesickness/feeling out of place). The intervention will also contain text- and video-based tips and strategies for protective strategies used abroad to limit experience of risk sex and sexual violence victimization.
Behavioral: PNF + SAF
No Intervention group
Control participants will receive a link to a general website offering study abroad advice ( and will be asked to spend at least 20 to 30 minutes reviewing their institution's study abroad website content, including policies for drinking abroad. This control condition was selected as a form of "treatment as usual" as our conversations with study abroad personnel indicate this is the extent of typical information students receive about alcohol use abroad.

Trial contacts and locations



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