Background

Group First Step is a program that was developed at the University of Pennsylvania for use with high-risk groups such as fraternities and sororities. It is grounded in research pertaining to best practices for alcohol and other drug interventions in the higher education environment. The program is a secondary prevention approach for an identified population, and it acknowledges that in order for a college-based alcohol education program to be effective and comprehensive, the various components of the program must appropriately anticipate and address the full range of attitudes and behaviors that student participants may present.

The program was heavily influenced by the Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students (BASICS) model (Dimeff, Baer, Kivlahan & Marlatt, 1999). In line with evidence-based research that defines B.A.S.I.C.S. as an effective intervention (Dimeff, L. A. et al., 1999), First Step utilizes brief intervention, motivational interviewing, harm reduction strategies, and personalized feedback to assist students in navigating the stages of change continuum outlined in the work of Prochaska and DiClemente (1992). 

Research on brief motivational interventions for individuals has shown continued effectiveness in lowering high risk drinking on college campuses (Dimeff, L. A. et al., 1999; Walters & Baer, 2006; NIAAA, 2002).  In addition, specific theoretical elements such as motivational interviewing, stages of change theory, and harm reduction have all been individually and collectively found to be highly effective strategies for lowering high risk alcohol and other drug use for identified college students (Dimeff, L. A. et al., 1999; Walters & Baer, 2006; Prochaska & DiClemente, 1992; NIAAA, 2002).