Alcohol Education Guide
to Reducing Harmful Drinking

Gender-Specific Intervention to Reduce Drinking Among Early Adolescent Girls



Implementer: Columbia University, School of Social Work

Partners: Funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse

Program Overview: This computer-based intervention aimed to strengthen mother daughter relationships and prevent underage drinking among young girls.

Program Design: This intervention for mothers and daughters was based on family interaction theory1which focuses on the importance of parent-child attachment. This was the rationale for including mothers and daughters in the intervention. The intervention itself was comprised of 14 computer-based modules. The modules focused on building mother-daughter relationships, communication, and respect; managing conflict and negotiating arguments; enabling girls to understand media and norms surrounding underage drinking; and building refusal skills. Mother and daughter dyads completed interventions at home, and received email reminders twice a week.

Evaluation: The evaluation relied on pre-test, post-test, and 2-month follow-up questionnaires completed by mothers and girls in the control and intervention groups.

Questionnaires included items to measure:

  • Mother communication, daughter communication (The Family Problem Solving Communication Index2)
  • Perceived rules, parental rules (The Intervention-Targeted Parenting Behaviors Scale3)
  • Parental monitoring (The Parental Monitoring Scale4)
  • Normative beliefs, alcohol consumption, drinking intentions (American Drug and Alcohol Survey5)
  • Self-efficacy (American Abstinence Self-Efficacy Scale6)
  • Refusal skills (Life Skills Training Questionnaire7)
  • Parental monitoring (The Parenting Practices Questionnaire8)

Key findings9: Evaluation of girls' questionnaire results from the intervention group showed statistically significant differences (when compared to control) for the following outcomes:

  • Improved communication 
  • Increases in parental rules around drinking as well as parental monitoring 
  • Improved conflict management skills
  • Better normative beliefs regarding alcohol consumption
  • Increased self-efficacy for avoiding alcohol 
  • Reduced self-reported alcohol consumption
  • Reduced intentions to consume alcohol


1. Brook, J. S., Brook, D. W., Gordon, A. S., Whiteman, M., & Cohen, P. (1990). The psychosocial etiology of adolescent drug use: A family interactional approach. Genetic, Social, and General Psychology Monographs, Vol. 116(2), 111-267.

2.McCubbin, M. A., McCubbin, H. L., & Thompson, A. I., (1996). Family problem slving communication index (FPSC). In McCubbin, H. L., Thompson, A. I., & McCubbin, M. A. (Eds.), Family Assessment: Resiliency, coping, and adaptation: Inventories for research and practice (pp. 639-686). Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin.

3. Spoth, R., Guyll, M., Trudeau, L., & Goldberg-Lillehoj, C. (2002). Two studies of proximal outcomes and implementation quality of universal preventive interventions in a community-university collaboration contextJournal of Community Psychology, Vol. 30(5), 499-518.

4. Li, X., Feigelman, S., & Stanton, B. (2000). Perceived parental monitoring and health risk behaviors among urban low-income African-American children and adolescentsJournal of Adolescent Health, Vol. 27(1), 43-48.

5. Beauvais, F., Edwards, R., & Oetting, E. (2004). American Drug and Alcohol Survey: Reliability and validity. Fort Collins, CO: Rocky Mountain Behavioral Institute. 

6. DiClemente, C. C., Carbonari, J. P., Montgomery, R. P. G., & Hughes, S. O. (1994). The alcohol abstinence self-efficacy scaleJournal of studies on alcohol55(2), 141-148.

7. Macaulay, A. P., Griffin, K. W., & Botvin, G. J. (2002).Initial internal reliability and descriptive statistics for a brief assessment tool for the Life Skills Training Drug-Abuse Prevention ProgramPsychological Reports, Vol. 91(2), 459-462.

8. Gorman-Smith, D., Tolan, P. H., Zelli, A., & Huesmann, L. R. (1996). The relation of family functioning to violence among inner-city minority youthJournal of Family Psychology, Vol. 10(2), 115-129.

9. Schinke, S. P., Cole, K. C. A., & Fang, L. (2009). Gender-specific intervention to reduce underage drinking among early adolescent girls: A test of a computer-mediated, mother-daughter programJournal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, Vol. 70(1), 70-77.

Target Audience: Middle school (10-14 years)
Issues: Underage Drinking
Setting: Family and home environments, Online/ Internet
Approach: Life Skills
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