Research Centers & Affiliations

IUHR - Northeastern University Student Assistance Program

Northeastern University Student Assistance Program

The purpose of the Northeastern University Student Assistance Program (NUSAP) is to enhance and expand current efforts to reduce student alcohol/drug (AD) use through a comprehensive framework of evidence-based strategies targeting the:

  • overall student population through social marketing techniques
  • students at risk through the BASICS brief screening and intervention program
  • students with AD dependence through an improved and expanded referral/linkage to community treatment providers

Data on AD use among Northeastern University students indicate higher-than-average college student rates for use, risky behaviors, and consequences. AD events involving students have alerted all levels of the NEU community regarding the need to strengthen prevention and intervention efforts. NUSAP focuses on the following:

Goal 1: Overall student population--Expand and enhance current communication and educational strategies through use of a social marketing campaign designed to reduce student perceptions of AD use as the norm; increase student perceptions regarding AD risk and consequences; and increase student familiarity with university AD services, and policies and sanctions.

Current Status: Eleven social marketing posters, based on survey data on NU students, have been created and are ready for campus dissemination. Topics include: (a) risks and consequences of AD use, (b) information on NU AD policies, and (c) tips for safer drinking.

Goal 2: Individual Strategies - Expand and enhance campus-based AD services through evidence-based strategies by (a) introducing universal brief self-report AD screening in University Health and Counseling Services (UHCS) of all students who come in for health services and conducting campus outreach to students who use AD to promote self-referral to the program, (b) conducting BASICS model program AD brief interventions with students who screen positive for AD use and agree to participate in the program, and, (c) enhancing the AD treatment referral system with additional nearby AD treatment provider agencies and improving linkages and (d) training and integrating AD student peer educators into related prevention activities. The outcome evaluation collects data through baseline, post-intervention, and 6 month surveys from students who screen positive, agree to participate and receive the brief intervention. Assessed AD outcomes include: use, expectancies, and consequences; and familiarity with NEU AD services, policies and sanctions.

Current Status: Since January 2006, a six-item AD screen has been integrated into the health history completed by all students who seek UHCS services. Clinicians have been taught to review the screen and refer eligible students to the BASICS program. Currently, 732 students (99% of goal to date) have agreed to participate in the BASICS program and have completed the baseline evaluation; 602 students have attended the BASICS program. Our overall goal is 1500 participants in 3 years, ending June 2008. Anecdotal student feedback about BASICS is positive, and some students refer friends to the program. To date, 77% of participants completed 6 month follow-up evaluations. Student Peer Educators are being recruited and trained to assist in AD outreach through a program conducted with the NU Coordinator of AOD Education.

Results: Preliminary findings suggest that student participants in BASICS demonstrate some areas of improvement, namely in areas of binge drinking and combined drug and alcohol use. We also observed improvements in the number of unprotected sexual encounters. However, unlike controlled studies of BASICS, we did not observe significant changes in other measures of AD use. Other issues may explain these results and we will continue to analyze data when more students have completed treatment and evaluation.

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