Readiness to Change Drinking Behavior in Female College Students

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Motivational interviewing (MI) therapies are effective in reducing high-risk drinking in college populations. Although research supports efficacy of MI prevention strategies in reducing alcohol use, there are little data examining readiness to change (RTC), the underlying theoretical model of MI interventions. The purpose of the present study was to explore RTC variability and drinking behavior and whether MI increases RTC in an intervention group compared with controls.


Two-hundred eighty-five first-year female college students participated in the study. Present analyses focused on those students who consumed alcohol in the month before the study (n = 182). RTC was measured using the Readiness to Change Ruler.


Analyses were conducted using hierarchical linear modeling. There was significant variability in RTC: 71.86% of variance in RTC was between- person differences, and 28.14% was within-person differences. Higher RTC was associated with lower intentions to drink and future drinking behavior. However, in weeks in which students drank more, they experienced a decrease in RTC. Based on the significant cross-level interaction, the intervention group had significantly higher RTC than controls.


These results provided partial support for our hypotheses. The overall theoretical construct of RTC varies both across and within individuals. These results also offer support for the utility of MI-based prevention strategies in increasing RTC within individuals. However, we did not consistently find that these changes related to drinking changes. Findings provide support for both the construct of RTC and utility of MI interventions in changing these beliefs in female college students.

Recommended Citation

Kaysen, D. L., Lee, C. M., LaBrie, J. W., & Tollison, S. J. (2009). Readiness to Change Drinking Behavior in Female College Students . Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. Supplement, (16), 106–114.