Home > College students’ perspectives on an alcohol prevention programme and student drinking – A focus group study.

Calnan, Susan and Davoren, Martin P (2022) College students’ perspectives on an alcohol prevention programme and student drinking – A focus group study. Nordic Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 39, (3), pp. 301-321. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F14550725211007078.

External website: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/145507252...


While there is considerable research on the efficacy of interventions designed to reduce alcohol consumption and related harms among college students, there is limited research on students’ own perspectives on such interventions. This qualitative study aimed to address this gap by examining college students’ perspectives in the context of an alcohol prevention programme for college students in Ireland.



Focus groups were used as the means of data collection, and participants were selected using purposive sampling based on two criteria – type/location of college and category of student. A total of eight focus groups were conducted at two institutions taking part in the programme. Participants comprised four categories of student: undergraduates, mature students, international students and students who were members of clubs or societies. Results were analysed through the lens of a social-ecological framework.



The study findings indicated that students perceived alcohol as being endemic to college life and wider society. As a result, many of the students were sceptical or ambivalent regarding the potential efficacy of alcohol prevention programmes. Despite the perceived pervasiveness of alcohol, the study pointed to heterogeneity in drinking practices among the participants. Moreover, the study participants expressed divergent views when asked whose responsibility it was to control student alcohol consumption.



Viewing the findings through a social-ecological lens, students seemed to collectively acknowledge the different layers of influence on student drinking, acknowledging the complex nature of this issue. Providing a greater variety of leisure spaces, including alcohol-free environments, was viewed particularly favourably by the student participants in terms of solutions proposed.

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