The Impact on Student Motivation to Engage in Behavioral Harm Reduction Practices

Primary author: Alex Steiner
Co-author(s): Oluwafemi Sunday; Patricia Maarhuis

Primary college/unit: Cougar Health Services/Health Promotion
Campus: Pullman


This research project evaluated the WSU IMPACT program’s effectiveness by measuring students’ motivation to engage in behavioral harm reduction practices regarding high-risk substance use, which in turn affects academic success. Student motivation was measured via four questions using a “level of importance” Likert scale associated with self-reported engagement in protective strategies, as well as participant willingness and intention to engage in these strategies. IMPACT is a harm reduction and psycho-education service provided to students mandated by the WSU Center for Community Standards sanction process for substance use violations. The purpose of this small group intervention is to administer a substance abuse BASICS (Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students) program (1999) based on efficacious best practices identified in the CollegeAim Matrix report (2015). Analyses: Independent T-test and ANOVA of pre/post brief intervention results were conducted across two sessions and four pre/post time points (Alcohol group N = 252, Cannabis group N = 106). Results: Overall, across all four questions, significant differences were found between timepoints one and two as well as timepoints three and four, with an upward slope or increases in reported positive harm reduction behaviors post IMPACT intervention (Alcohol: F(1, 116) = 5043.15, p = .001; Cannabis: F(1, 38) = 848.64, p = .001) Conclusion: Per these self-reported data, the IMPACT intervention was effective in increasing motivation and intention for positive behavior change regarding high-risk substance use across multiple timepoints.