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University of Missouri-Columbia

The University of Missouri-Columbia (MU) is a public university with an enrollment of approximately 23,000 students.

Project Results to Date

21% Reduction over the first 2 Years of the project (1998-200).

During the first year of its intervention, MU's rate of heavy episodic alcohol consumption decreased from 60% to 53%, a 7 point decline, which equals an 11.7% reduction. The second year of the intervention yielded an additional 5.7 point decline; together, the total point decline over the two years (12.7) equals a 21% reduction in heavy episodic alcohol consumption.

Data from the control institution showed 6 point increase in heavy episodic drinking after the first year (from 28% to 34%), and a 10 point increase after the second year. Together, the total increase over the two years (16 points) equals a more than 50% increase in heavy episodic alcohol consumption at the control school that did not have a social norm campaign.

Pre- and post-intervention data was collected by surveying the same group of freshman students at both the MU and the control campuses.

The primary normative messages during the initial phase (1998-2000) of the project at MU were:

  • "Most MU students
  • drink 0-4 drinks per week."
  • "Most MU students don't drink and drive."
  • "Most MU students have not missed class due to drinking."
  • "Most MU students use alcohol once a week or less."

Over the past three years (2003-2005), the project has expanded its focus to emphasize the protective behaviors of student drinkers, as well as their attitudes about drinking. This has resulted (over an 18-month period) in:
  • A 44% increase in students who alternate non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks
  • A 38% increase in students who decide, before they go out, on a set number of drinks
  • A 25% increase in students who use a designated driver
  • A 25% increase in students who eat before drinking
  • A 9% increase in students who have been a designated driver
  • A 6% increase in students who do not drink if they have academic obligations the next day
  • A 3% increase in the number of students who decide not to drink at a party
  • A 21% decrease in the number of residence hall students who have driven under the influence of alcohol
  • A 10% decrease in the number of underage students who have driven under the influence

Marketing Methods Employed

Project staff have created an extensive norm intervention that has been incorporated into all aspects of the students' environment: where they live, study, eat, socialize, and learn. Elements have included:

  • Normative ads are placed weekly in three different student newspapers, either solely communicating social norms messages or advertising events with normative messages incorporated into them.
  • New posters for the living units every month.
  • Large sandwich boards for the student commons that change weekly.
  • Promotional items including ID holders/key chains, t-shirts distributed at major prevention events, water bottles, buttons and mouse pads for all computer labs on campus.
  • Ads at the bottom of each page of the Greek telephone directory.
  • Social norms training for the most influential people in students' lives, including admissions recruiters, academic advisors, faculty, residential life staff, orientation leaders, coaches, parents, and key administrators.

Principle Investigator

Kim Dude
Director, Wellness Resource Center and ADAPT
34 Brady Commons
University of Missouri-Columbia
Columbia, Missouri 65211
Tel 573.882.4634

**Portions of the information presented on this page were originally prepared by Michael Haines and Richard Rice and are printed here with their permission.