Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students (BASICS): A Qualitative Study of the Experiences of Mental Health Practitioners on the College Campus
Wagstaff, Jennifer Fay
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High-risk drinking among college students is believed to be the most serious health issue facing college and universities throughout the United States. In 1999, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) established a task force to address the issue and released a report with recommendations for intervention and prevention. Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students (BASICS) emerged as an evidence-based practice to address high-risk drinking. Quantitative researchers produced results that indicate BASICS and interventions similar to BASICS are an effective means to reduce high-risk drinking and the negative outcomes associated with high-risk drinking. Despite strong evidence for the effectiveness of BASICS, little is known about its fidelity when BASICS is implemented in a practical setting. The purpose of this study was to explore the perspectives and experiences of practitioners in the mental health profession who use the BASICS intervention via semi-structured interviews. Themes emerged related to the application of the intervention, the strongest and weakest aspects of intervention, and barriers to implementation. The themes linked to the application of BASICS on campuses included: (1) a comprehensive/progressive approach to address high-risk drinking; (2) modifications; and (3) the mandated student. The themes relating to the strongest aspects of the intervention were: (1) harm reduction; (2) education; (3) personal awareness; and (4) self-empowerment while the weakest aspects were: (1) the dilemma of one size fits all and (2) the personalized feedback report (PFR). The themes connected to barriers were: (1) the referral process; (2) training; and (3) onus on the facilitator. These twelve themes provide insight into the benefits and challenges of implementing BASICS in a practical setting on college campuses. Implications for both mental health practitioners and student affairs professionals are discussed, study limitations are provided, and suggestions for future research are offered. This study concludes with specific recommendations for student affairs professionals that includes the use of BASICS combined with other best practices to effectively address the issue of high-risk drinking and the negative consequences associated with this behavior on college campuses.
- Doctoral Dissertations