New Study Aims to Reduce Alcohol Use and Risky Sexual Behavior Among College Students

May 02, 2021

Photo of Dr. Anne Ray

Dr. Anne Ray, assistant professor of Health, Behavior & Society at the University of Kentucky College of Public Health, is principal investigator of a new project to create and test a web application designed to reduce alcohol use and risky sexual behavior among first-year college students.


Many alcohol education programs for college students pay little-to-no attention to alcohol use as a risk factor for risky sex. Alcohol misuse is highly prevalent among college students with one in three reporting binge drinking (5+ drinks in a row) in the past month, and one in ten reporting “high intensity” drinking (10+ drinks in a row). Heavy drinking on a given day is linked to increased sexual activity, unprotected sex, and unplanned hook-ups which can lead to negative health outcomes (e.g., STIs) and is a pathway to sexual victimization.


Ray and co-investigators from UK and other institutions will evaluate the impact of a web application that provides feedback to students on their individual alcohol use and related sexual activity over the course of the first semester. The feedback encourages them to reflect on their behavioral patterns and provides strategies for ways to reduce their risk. Collaborators include Dr. Jerod Stapleton, Dr. Heather Bush, and Dr. Seth Himelhoch of the University of Kentucky; Dr. Eun-Young Mun, Dr. Melissa Lewis, and Dr. Zhengyang Zhou of the University of North Texas Health Science Center; and Dr. Dave Buller of Klein Buendel. Dr. Lewis and colleagues previously demonstrated that a preliminary version of the program can reduce both alcohol misuse and risky sexual behavior in the short-term and this new project aims to (1) extend these positive effects over time by delivering tailored feedback across the first semester and (2) explore factors important to successful implementation of this type of program on college campuses through feedback from both students and staff.


Funded by an R01 grant from the National Institute Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the project “Cross-Tailoring Integrative Alcohol and Risky Sex Feedback for College Students: A Hybrid Type 1 Effectiveness-Implementation Trial” will be conducted over a period of five years, and the project budget will total more than $3 million.


This project is funded by National Institutes of Health award number 1R01AA028246-01A1.