CABHR is a key participant in The Milwaukee Idea
he Center for Addiction and Behavioral Health Research began its second decade by being selected as the organization to lead Healthy Choices, a UWM initiative intended to educate students and the community about problems associated with alcohol and drug use, as well as conduct research and share new information with health care providers and community-based organizations.
Healthy Choices is a component of The Milwaukee Idea, Chancellor Nancy Zimphers ambitious, university-wide plan unveiled shortly after her arrival in 1998. Community-university partnerships are at the heart of The Milwaukee Idea, which addresses issues including campus and community design; cross-cultural understanding; economic opportunity; aquatic, environmental, and personal health; technology; and globalization.
As part of Healthy Choices, CABHR sent separate surveys to students and to faculty and staff to assess student drinking at UWM. The results will be used to better understand the impact of current efforts to curb drug and alcohol use and for the development of new initiatives.
Two student surveys, the Core Alcohol and Drug Survey and the Campus Survey of Alcohol and Other Drug Norms, were sent to 1,300 randomly selected, full-time UWM undergraduates earlier this year to assess a wide range of health-related issues, including the use of alcohol and drugs. A third survey, the National College Health Assessment, was sent to another set of 1,300 participants.
A faculty/staff survey sent out in Fall 2000 seeks to assess the employees perception of alcohol and drug use among students on campus, their perception of the extent of the problem and possible consequences, and their awareness of alcohol and drug policies and their enforcement on campus.
Results of the surveys will be scored in January, and development of a comprehensive campus and community initiative will begin during the spring semester.
CABHR Director Allen Zweben said the effort will give UWM a chance to apply the most recent research findings and help improve the lives of its students and others on campus.
Good research leads to good clinical practice and meaningful early interventions, he says. If students are developing alcohol dependencies, we want to be able to be here to help them realize that, and provide them with choices that can be tailored to their personality and situation. The same goes for faculty and staff.
CABHR has developed a self-help guide for treating those who might have alcohol dependency problems. The guide helps people examine their drinking styles and understand the consequences.
Through the Healthy Choices Initiative, UWM has also been selected to participate in the national Social Norms Marketing Research Project (SNMRP), the most comprehensive study of its kind. The premise behind social norms marketing is that college students tend to overestimate the degree of drinking among their peers.
As students attempt to fit in and be accepted, they may change their behavior in negative ways, to live up to what they think is the standard, nursing Assistant Professor Carol Ott said earlier this year in the CABHR newsletter. Ott is also the SNMRP primary investigator on the UWM campus.
Social norms marketing uses media campaigns to try to correct students misconceptions. The hope is that when students have a more accurate perception of norms on campus, they will be motivated to drink less. A two-year marketing campaign was scheduled to begin this fall, with evaluations and assessments planned for each succeeding spring.
The SNMRP was initiated to test the effectiveness of Just the Facts, a social norms marketing campaign funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the U.S. Department of Education.