How effective is social norms feedback in reducing alcohol misuse in university or college students?
Only a small number of good quality studies were available for many of the outcomes and analyses, and most of the studies were from the US. The intensity of the intervention differed between trials as did the control intervention (no intervention, educational leaflets or an alcohol educational session). The review may also lack generalisability due to recruitment into the trials. A large number of studies in this review selected participants from psychology courses or were delivered to students at high-risk (eg, first year students).
People may believe their peers drink heavily, which influences their drinking. Much of this peer influence is the result of incorrect perceptions. Normative feedback relies on the presentation of information on these misperceptions, about personal drinking profiles, risk factors and normative comparisons. Feedback can be given alone or in addition to individual or group counselling. Individual face-to-face feedback typically involves social norms feedback as just one aspect of a broader motivational interviewing intervention.