Texas Tech University

NCAA Alcohol Education Grant to Encourage Safer Drinking Behavior Among Texas Tech Students

Human Sciences faculty develop a series of unique messages to encourage drinking safety among students.

College game days often generate an air of anticipation and excitement for fans and students alike. With this electrified buzz also comes various means of celebration, many of them involving the consumption of alcohol. When consumed responsibly, alcohol poses minimal threat, but when limits are exceeded there comes cause for concern, especially among college students. However, four Texas Tech University College of Human Sciences faculty members have developed a series of messages they hope will reduce excessive alcohol consumption among Texas Tech students.

Antover Tuliao, Ph.D., Spencer Bradshaw Ph.D., LMFT-A, Kristy Soloski, Ph.D., LMFT-A and Monica Martin, Ph.D., have used funding awarded from an NCAA alcohol education grant to develop a project dedicated to educating Texas Tech students about safer drinking behavior, or Protective Behavior Strategies, and correcting alcohol myths. Protective Behavioral Strategies, Dr. Tuliao explains, are coping behaviors that reduce alcohol-use related problems and encourage students to drink less/safely. Some of these behaviors include getting a designated driver, setting a specific time to go home from a bar and limiting the number of drinks consumed during a night out. As for correcting faulty alcohol-related myths, statistics are used to combat perceived notions concerning alcohol consumption among students.Texas Tech NCAA grant

"If students think their peers drink heavily, then they are influenced to do the same when they go out," Dr. Tuliao said. "We try to correct these by providing students with statistics about alcohol consumption and acceptable behavior of college students their age."

To further illustrate the importance of these behaviors and statistics, filming for the project was done in conjunction with the Texas Tech athletics department with assistance from their media team, Texas Tech Senior Athletic Director Robert Giovannetti and Professor Brian Shannon, who serves as Faculty Athletics Representative to the NCAA and Big 12 Conference. This collaboration allowed for Texas Tech student athletes to endorse safer behaviors and messages portrayed in the videos via jumbotron at Texas Tech football games. Additionally, focus group discussions with Texas Tech students were used to determine how to translate the messages into something college students would be responsive to.

Despite the messages being targeted mainly toward Texas Tech students, Tuliao said that he hopes the impact also reaches the Texas Tech sports community as the main goal is to reduce alcohol-related harm among both groups.

Along with posting the video messages on the jumbotron and bulletin boards around the Texas Tech campus, the group has also developed a system where research volunteers are sent text-messages reminding them of the protective behavioral strategies and myth-busting statistics. This system is also the second stage of the research process covered by the grant.

"Currently, we are testing whether text-messaging and social media intervention would reduce excessive drinking and alcohol-related problems," Tuliao said. "We have one more year to examine the effects of the intervention and hopefully we can make this an ongoing brief intervention we can use at Texas Tech."

Moving forward, the group plans to display similar messages by basketball, baseball, soccer and other Texas Tech athletes in their respective stadiums as the grant progresses. If evaluations of the effects of the grant prove to be successful, they also hope to incorporate their findings into materials provided by the Texas Tech University Risk Intervention and Safety Education (RISE) program and help in their mission to keep the Texas Tech community safe.