Project PACT2

Project Name: Project PACT
Principal Investigator: Robert Turrisi, PhD
Co-Principal Investigator: Mary E. Larimer, PhD
Grant Title:A Longitudinal Study of Parent Communication with College Students and Alcohol
Sponsor: National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse
Project Period: 9/24/1999-12/31/2015
Grant Number: R01AA012529
Project Coordinator: Theresa Walter

Heavy drinking among college students continues to be a public health concern for colleges and universities throughout the United States. Prevalence rates of heavy episodic drinking in college populations range from 40 to 50%, with nearly one out of four students reporting extreme drinking tendencies including frequent heavy episodic drinking (3 times or more within a two-week period), as well as drinking on 10 or more occasions within the past 30 days.

Despite the utility of parent communication documented in recent empirical studies, a notable gap exists in the prevention literature after the first year in college. There are no published reports examining implementation of parent approaches beyond that point. This is concerning as there is growing evidence suggesting that alcohol-related consequences are increasing for older students aged 21-24. The under-examination of parents beyond the first year may derive from the continuation of the widespread assumption that parents’ influence on their students recedes at this stage of development. Moreover, an important component of the success of parent-based interventions hinges on parents’ willingness to communicate with their students. We know of no studies examining parental willingness to communicate with their students about alcohol throughout college. Thus, the present research represents the next logical step in our research program by proposing to conduct a comprehensive examination of variables influencing parents’ willingness to communicate with their students about alcohol throughout their entire college experience. The purpose of the study is to gain a better understanding of parental communication and its relationship to student drinking behavior by examining patterns that emerge while individuals are under legal drinking age on through 21.

To this extent, the aims of the proposed research are to:

1. Examine the processes by which predictors and mediating constructs of parental communication about alcohol are associated with parent-student communications.

2. Examine the processes by which parent-student communications about alcohol predict student drinking mediating constructs and subsequent student drinking outcomes.

3. Examine developmental changes using a prospective longitudinal design between parent communication constructs and student drinking outcomes through the entire college experience.