over 3 Years
is a comprehensive liberal arts university with approximately 11,000
students. In 1997, its office of Prevention and Wellness Service implemented
a mass media social norms marketing campaign to correct student misperceptions
of alcohol and drug use norms. One result of this intervention was that
a 20% reduction in the high-risk alcohol consumption rate was achieved
in the first year and has been sustained over a three-year period.
U. S. Department
The primary goal
was to correct student misperceptions of alcohol and drug use norms
and to limit the availability of alcohol and other drugs. Secondary
goals included correcting inaccurate beliefs about student drinking
held by key stakeholders and opinion leaders among faculty, staff and
Baseline data revealed
that the level of high-risk consumption of alcohol held relatively constant
at 34% from 1993 to 1996. However, as measured in 1997, fully 89% of
students thought that their peers drank heavily once a week or more.
Focus group feedback
has resulted in the revision of the basic normative message over the
course of the intervention:
- 1997: Most (66%)
of WWU students drink 4 or fewer drinks when they party.
- 1998: Most (72%)
of WWU students drink 1 to 4 drinks when they party.
- 1999: Most (84%)
of WWU students drink 0 to 4 drinks when they party.
- 2000: Most (84%)
of WWU students drink 0, 1, 2, 3 or at most 4 drinks when they party.
per week in the campus newspaper and posters which appeared around campus
and in the residence halls. In addition, a "door-knocker"
campaign delivered information about actual campus drinking norms to
students and community residents in areas surrounding the university.
To gather pre- and
post-intervention data the project employed the WWU Lifestyles Survey,
which is administered to a full random sample of WWU students. Additional
information was gathered from focus groups and one-on-one interviews
with key community stakeholders.
consumption levels had held relatively constant at 34% from 1993 to
1996. Within the first year of implementation of the social norms marketing
campaign in 1997 there was a 20% decline in such behavior. There was
also a dramatic first year decline (from 89% to 45%) in the percentage
of students who perceived that their peers drank heavily. Most notably,
the percentage of students who reported at least one negative effect
of alcohol use declined from 61% in 1997 to 51% in 1998.
Fabiano, P. M., "Applying the Social Norms Model to Universal and
Indicated Alcohol Interventions at Western Washington University,"
(2003) in The Social Norms Approach To Preventing School And College
Age Substance Abuse: A Handbook For Educators, Counselors, And Clinicians,
Ed. H. Wesley Perkins. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Patricia M. Fabiano
Prevention and Wellness Service
Western Washington University
Old Main 560A - Mail Stop 9039
Bellingham, WA 98225
of the information presented on this page were originally prepared by Michael
Haines and Richard Rice and are printed here with their permission.