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Washington State University

First Years Away From Home: A Randomized Controlled Trial

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Parent-student dyads (450 dyads per cohort; two cohorts) are randomly assigned to one of three groups: Handbook, Handbook Plus (an innovative “booster” condition in which some Handbook parents receive tailored text messages), and Control. All participants complete a baseline survey during summer before the first year of college. Handbook parents then receive the mailed handbook; Handbook Plus parents also receive booster messages referring to handbook material during the fall semester. Follow-up surveys will occur once a semester for two years. Through efficacy testing, we aim to systematically reduce risky behaviors and negative outcomes among our students, including substance use, academic failure, and risky sexual practices. Additionally, we aim to assess mechanisms of risk and protection within the parent-student family domain that extends our knowledge of this developmental period and promotes positive adjustment.

Graduate students are participating in multiple phases of this RCT, including:

  • Motivational interviewing techniques and implementation of intervention materials
  • Data collection
  • Data management
  • Secondary analyses of longitudinal data