Home > College student knowledge of blackouts and implications for alcohol intervention: a qualitative analysis.

Miller, Mary Beth and Merrill, Jennifer E and Singh, Samyukta and DiBello, Angelo M and Carey, Kate B (2018) College student knowledge of blackouts and implications for alcohol intervention: a qualitative analysis. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 32, (8), pp. 933-943. doi: 10.1037/adb0000419.

External website: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC62968...

Blackouts (periods of alcohol-induced anterograde amnesia) are common among young adults and place individuals at significant risk for alcohol-related harm; thus, researchers have advocated for increased efforts to educate young adults on blackouts. This qualitative study examined college student knowledge of blackouts as well as their ideas for intervening on blackout drinking behavior in order to inform prevention and intervention efforts. College students who had experienced a blackout in the past 6 months participated in eight focus groups, stratified by gender (N = 50, five to eight/group, 56% female). Discussions followed a semistructured agenda. Audio recordings were transcribed verbatim and coded using applied thematic analysis. Themes related to knowledge were reviewed in comparison to the empirical literature.

Empirically derived risk factors for blackouts included biology (e.g., genetics, biological sex), drinking behavior (i.e., rate of consumption), other drug use, and "indirect" influences (e.g., pregaming, drinking location). Participants' knowledge of the risk factors for blackout was inconsistent and, in some cases, inaccurate. While participants generally understood the behavioral risk factors for blackouts, they demonstrated less understanding of the role of genetics, biological sex, drinking speed (vs. quantity), and other drug use. They also identified dehydration and sleep as perceived risk factors for blackout. They suggested avenues for intervention at the policy (e.g., amnesty policies), peer (e.g., expressing concern), and individual (e.g., education) levels. College students with a history of blackout have limited understanding of the biological risk factors for blackout. These knowledge gaps represent targets for intervention. Findings indicate promise for blackout-specific interventions. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved).

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