Recognition and Referral Skills for RAs - Alcohol-Drug Problems

  • Thombs, Dennis (CoPI)

Project Details


DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Resident assistants (RAs) are often the first staff members at a college or university to learn that a student is engaged in alcohol or other drug abuse. This Phase II STTR application seeks support to further develop and test a web-based program called RA Resources (RAR) - Alcohol-Drug Problems. Phase 5, Inc. will conduct this theory-driven research project designed to strengthen RAs' ability to effectively approach, refer, and follow-up with residential college students who may have alcohol or other drug problems. The RAR - Alcohol-Drug Problems training program will have interactive features that emphasize teaching positive, respectful ways to link resident students who may have an alcohol or other drug problem with appropriate professional services. The goal of Phase II research is to complete development and evaluate the effectiveness of two versions of the training program. One version will focus exclusively on training RAs. A second version will include additional features to train their immediate supervisors, i.e., residence hall directors (or RHDs), to supervise RAs on mental health issues. These two RAR versions and a control condition will be tested in a randomized field trial involving 90 RA staffs from 30 college and university campuses. The study will test the following hypotheses: (1) compared to controls, RA participation in either training program will significantly increase scores on measures derived from the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB); (2) RAs in the RAR-RHD Alcohol-Drug Problems training program will have significantly greater scores on TPB measures compared to those in the RAR only (no RHD supervision component); (3) resident students with RAs in either of the RAR training program will have greater scores on measures of RA support and respect for RA leadership, compared to those residents with RAs in the control condition. The proposed research offers a solution to the problems associated with inadequate training of RAs on alcohol and other drug issues. The research is significant because it seeks to strengthen and extend campus networks of care by linking students with alcohol or other drug problems to treatment services in a more effective and timely manner. The approach may be an effective means of extending care to students in need as well as to reduce campus problems associated with alcohol and drug abuse, including academic problems, vandalism, and violence. PUBLIC HEALTH RELEVANCE: The development of an online alcohol-drug training program for college resident assistants (RAs) represents a significant commercial opportunity and one that could produce important societal benefits. We are not aware of any web-based application that provides training for RAs to recognize and refer residence hall students who may have alcohol and other drug problems. Although alcohol and drug problems are prevalent in the undergraduate population, the current state of RA training on these issues is inconsistent across America's campuses and at many institutions is woefully inadequate.
Effective start/end date1/09/1031/08/14


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