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Washington State University

First Years Away From Home: A Randomized Controlled Trial and Spanish Language Adaptation

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Randomized Controlled Trial

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


Spanish Language Adaptation

At Washington State University, 14% of Fall 2017 incoming first-year students were Latinx; of those students, 60% were first-generation college students. By following the ADAPT-ITT sequence, the IMPACT labPEARL lab, and CAHNRS communications is informatively and appropriately tailoring the First Years Away From Home parent handbook content to Latinx, first-generation families. This initiative is a response to preliminary implementation data, where lower rates of engagement with handbook material are detected among ethnic minority parents that did not attend college themselves. In recognition of both language and collegiate-cultural barriers, this adaption project has three aims: 1) to provide additional resources to adapt, pilot, and test a Spanish-language video version of the handbook; 2) to reduce disparity of access and increase the representation of Spanish-only speaking parents in the sample; and 3) to add an additional specific aim, exploring similarities and differences in communication patterns and family relationships among Latinx and European American parents and young adult children.

Graduate students and undergraduate research assistants are collaborating with all phases as a parent handbook adaptation team. Activities include:

  • Collection of qualitative parent interview data (both Spanish and English)
  • Collection of qualitative student interview data
  • Translation and transcription of interviews
  • Qualitative coding
  • Conducting analyses
  • Collaboration with CAHNRS communication
  • Poster construction and presentation