Mechanisms of behavior change within peer-implemented alcohol interventions

Erica M. Eaton, Molly Magill, Christy Capone, Margaret A. Cramer, Nadine R. Mastroleo, Racheal Reavy, Brian Borsari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Objective: Colleges continue to experience a high number of referred students because of campus alcohol violations. Subsequently, there has been a trend to use peer-implemented minimal interventions (PMIs), often using motivational interviewing (MI). However, little is known about how PMIs facilitate behavior change. This study aims to examine the mechanisms of behavior change within PMIs and their influence on alcohol reduction among mandated students. Method: Participants (N = 146; mean age = 18.7 years; 67% male; 94% White) were college students who violated campus alcohol policy at a Northeastern liberal arts college who received a 15-minute PMI addressing their alcohol use. The Motivational Interviewing Skill Code (Miller et al., 2003) was used to identify peer counselor behaviors that were MI consistent (MICO), client change talk (CT), and client self-exploration. Results: MICO behaviors were positively associated with CT and self-exploration. Client CT and self-exploration were negatively associated with alcohol-related outcomes. Furthermore, mediational models examining MICO behaviors revealed effects for two paths: (a) from MICO to client CT to reduced alcohol use; and (b) from MICO to client self-exploration to reduced alcohol-related consequences and use. Conclusions: These data support the primary causal chain examining the influence of MICO on in-session client behaviors and related post-session behavior change in PMIs among at-risk students.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)208-216
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of studies on alcohol and drugs
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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