The Brief Behavioral Activation Treatment for Depression (BATD) was implemented during a college orientation of students at the University of Maryland to determine what effect it would have on alcohol use and depressive symptoms. The researchers, from the University of Maryland, College Park, the University of Mississippi and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, recruited 71 freshmen into the pilot study, enrolling them into an orientation class that taught them how to manage stress during their first year at school. The authors said, “College freshman face a variety of academic and social challenges as they adjust to college life that can place them at risk for a number of negative outcomes, including depression and alcohol-related problems. Orientation classes that focus on teaching incoming students how to better cope with college-oriented stress may provide an opportunity to prevent the development of these adjustment problems.” The students participated in two hour classes over a 15 week period. They were evaluated for any depressive symptoms at the beginning of the orientation, during the middle and again at completion of the course and their alcohol use was assessed using the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT).
The researchers discovered that compared to the control group, the test subjects reported reduced problem drinking throughout the study. However, the level of depressive symptoms was low throughout, showing very little change, providing inconclusive results. Because of the prevalence of alcohol use among college enrollees, the researchers are pleased with the results of the study. They noted that nearly 8% of college students abuse alcohol and nearly 11% are considered alcohol dependent. “Heavy episodic drinking carries serious consequences and places college students at an increased risk for accidental injury, unplanned and unsafe sex, and a host of social and psychological problems.” They believe their study is important for many reasons. “Importantly, alcohol problems are evident in the early stages of college attendance, suggesting the potential utility and relevance of early intervention.”
Reynolds, Elizabeth K., Laura MacPherson, Matthew T. Tull, David E. Baruch, and C.W. Lejuez. “Integration of the Brief Behavioral Activation Treatment for Depression (BATD) into a College Orientation Program: Depression and Alcohol Outcomes.”Journal of Counseling Psychology (July 25, 2011). Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0024634
© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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