Why Cohort-Based Intervention?

Group First Step is a group based intervention that targets groups of students who are socially connected, such as athletic teams or individual chapters of fraternities and sororities. We chose to utilize this approach because of the potential impact on group and campus culture.

Despite extensive research on brief interventions with high risk or indicated individuals, research on college group-based brief interventions with statistically high risk populations remains limited.

Group First Step addresses the impact of group culture on high risk AOD behaviors among members of the affiliated student group. We know that peer influence plays a significant role in the decisions that a student makes about drinking. In fact, peer influence is reported as the most common environmental risk factor for alcohol use in adolescence.   Dimeff, Baer, Kivlahan and Marlatt (1999) state that, "Peers are commonly believed to 'socialize' one another to drink by modeling, imitating, or reinforcing drinking behavior" (p. 11)  Further, Jessor & Jessor (1977) and Kandel & Andrews (1987) identify peer influence as "the most common environmental risk factor for alcohol use in adolescence and is the single best predictor of young adult drinking" (p. 11), while Walters & Baer (2006) state that "literature suggests that community norms are linked to drinking rates." In response to these findings, Group First Step works to facilitate change within a specific group's culture in order to create safer, healthier group environments on campus while simultaneously impacting individuals' behavior within the group.