Our recent work (Boyle, Earle, LaBrie, & Smith, 2017) showed that the efficacy of personalized normative feedback-based (PNF) college alcohol interventions can be improved through the addition of gamified elements including points, chance, competition, and personal avatars. However, participants in that study were compensated with subject pool credit. In the current study, we piloted an upgraded, smartphone-based version of the game, which was designed to be truly self-sustaining (i.e., engaging enough that students play voluntarily without the presence of external motivators). First-year students were invited to play the game weekly for six rounds, with participants submitting and voting on their own questions each week and receiving a novel type of feedback in addition to standard descriptive PNF: opposite peers' judgments of participants' self-reported drinking behavior, or reflective norms. With no play-based incentives, 222 first-year college students voluntarily played the game, CampusGANDR. ANCOVA models revealed that, relative to participants randomized to receive feedback on control topics during the three intervention rounds, those who received both descriptive and reflective feedback on peer alcohol use had significantly reduced normative perceptions and reduced alcohol use two months post intervention. This was especially true among heavy drinkers. The results suggest that our gamified “GANDR” approach shows promise as a self-sustaining intervention and, further, that high-risk drinkers may benefit disproportionately from this methodology. Thus, self-sustaining interventions represent an encouraging avenue for future research and development and may hold the potential to impact risky college drinking on a large scale.
Addictive Behaviors – Elsevier
Published: May 1, 2018
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